After a recent spate of metal thefts making national headlines, criminal gangs across the UK seem to be broadening their horizons and turning their hand to oil. With heating oil prices continuing to rise, oil is seen as ‘liquid gold’, and a highly valuable commodity that is increasingly attractive to the more unsavoury members of society.

According to a recent survey by rural insurance company NFU Mutual, domestic oil is now the third most common item stolen from the countryside, sitting behind tools and quad bikes, up from sixth in a similar survey just 12 months previously.

So what are the reasons behind this unwanted growing trend, and importantly, what can you do to buck it?

High Value

Although we’d like to think the opposite, thieves aren’t stupid; in fact, it’s often quite the opposite. They’re very aware of the risk versus the potential rewards and organised gangs will have the necessary tools to ensure a clean grab and a quick getaway. Whilst heating oil prices remain high, it’s a sad fact that anyone with a domestic oil tank is a potential victim. top tip: Whilst you can’t personally have much influence over heating oil prices, you can be discreet about how much oil you have. If everyone knows you get an oil delivery on the first day of the month, the likelihood of someone pouncing is increased. Aim to vary the date of your top-ups to keep them guessing.

Limited Security Measures

The vast majority of the £2.5m UK households with no access to a mains gas supply are in rural areas, making it much less likely that a theft will be caught on CCTV. A surprising number of domestic oil tanks have very little to protect what’s inside, which is a huge oversight considering there are often thousands of pounds at risk. top tip: As a bare minimum, all tanks should be fitted with a robust lock, and it would be even better if they could be disguised or hidden away from the gaze of would-be robbers. More expensive investments such as motion sensor technology and alarms will pay for themselves in the long run.

Personal Consumption

Thieves who prey on jewellery stores or art galleries generally aren’t after something for themselves, regardless of how pretty they may look in a pair of sparking diamond earrings. These types of theft require a black market to distribute the swag, whereas heating oil can be stored and used without anyone else ever having to find out. top tip: Oil isn’t exactly easy to track, but you should keep your eyes and ears open in your local community for anyone brash enough to brag about their exploits. Even if you haven’t been affected personally, it may only be a matter of time and a call to the authorities will put some karma in your pocket.