Theft of Heating Oil from Churches

Churches around the country have seen a rise in theft of heating oil. Find out how you can prevent it.

The cost of heating oil has increased significantly recently and this has resulted in more thefts of heating oil from churches. The first indication the church has is when the heating does not work. Usually the assumption made is that the boiler is at fault, but regrettably the problem is often simply no oil.

Thefts vary from small amounts being stolen to the whole tank being drained. The methods used by the thieves can be very crude, including drilling holes in the side of the tank and then filling jerry cans.

Although it is not currently a problem in this area, there are a number of preventative measures you can take:

• Monitor the level of oil in your tank regularly to ensure that the contents are not being stolen.

•   Conceal the location of the tank by using hedging, fencing or walling. You may need a faculty to do this.

•   If the tank is within the church building, or an outbuilding then ensure that doors are securely locked at all times.

•   Consider installing security lighting to cover the tank, if the churchyard is overlooked from nearby buildings. Again a faculty will be required for this.

•   Ask nearby residents to be vigilant and report suspicious activity.

•   Encourage visits to the church, as more activity will reduce the time available to thieves.

•   Depending upon your churches location, consider padlocking the valve. This may not always be the correct course of action, as a determined thief may decide to smash the valve completely, but it can deter the less determined thief.

•   Lock the church gates at night to make it more difficult for a thief to escape with oil.