We'll soon have a new website - Take a look and try out our new website experience

Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Advice guide - Securing your oil tank

Share by emailShare by email

How to secure your oil tank

Theft of domestic heating and commercial diesel oil often increases when the price of crude oil rises. Thieves target fuel tanks at businesses, farms, transport depots and homes. They may use it for their own purposes or sell it on at a handsome profit.

While we are working hard to bring these criminals to justice, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from fuel theft. Oil is a valuable commodity, so it makes good sense to take precautions and invest a small amount of money, if you can, to prevent thieves targeting your tank.

Location of your oil tank

The position and appearance of the tank can have a significant effect on how difficult it is to target in the eyes of the thief. If the tank is close to your house, with one or more windows overlooking it, a thief may consider their chances of being seen too high. If the tank is close to a road, path, drive or alleyway, it is far easier to target. Hiding your tank behind a garage, shed or outbuilding is an option, but it can give a thief the advantage of working unseen.

Invest in quality padlocks

A thief will usually come equipped with tools to attack your tank so it’s worth investing in good quality locks. Close shackle padlocks are most effective as they offer most resistance to tools such as bolt croppers. If possible, padlocks should be shrouded to make bolt cropping of locks or brackets difficult for an offender.

Hide your oil - Consider camouflage

Surround your oil tank with tall plants if the area gets adequate sun. Leave a space of several feet between the tank and the bushes. Bushes like juniper, holly, lilac or boxwood provide width and height when fully grown as well as looking attractive. Use evergreen bushes for full coverage at all times of year.

  • Surround your oil tank with tall plants.
  • Install a trellis fence and cover it with hanging vines such as cucumber or trumpet vine. Place a gate on one side to allow access for oil refilling or repair.
  • Use prefabricated fence panels to construct a fence that goes around the entire oil tank.
  • Defensive planting is nature’s way of helping to reduce crime. Thieves will not want to force their way through or over a thorny hedge.

Fit oil level gauges and tank alarms

Remote electronic oil level gauges are now available. They set off an alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full. Devices that send an alert to your mobile phone are also available.

Security lighting

It is strongly advised that you install PIR (motion activated) lighting in the area if your tank. Static lighting can aid an offender in their crime, whereas lighting that goes on and off is likely to alert you or passers by to someone being outside, and is also likely to deter the offender.

Make some noise with gravel

Consider gravelling the access route to your tank, or around the tank. This will make noise when it is walked over. This could serve to alert you and deter a potential thief.

Walls and fencing

A wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection to the tank. A metal grill or cage with a lockable access point across the top or this wall or fence can further improve security.

'Defensive planting'

Planting thorny shrubs and bushes around your diesel oil tank provides an effective and decorative thief-proof barrier as thieves don’t want to force their way through or over a prickly hedge, as the smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help police identify them.

The following plants can be effective - but remember you will still need access to fill the tank:

  • Pyracantha
  • Berberis Julianae
  • Mahonia Bealei – Winter Sun
  • Ulex Europaeus – Common Gorse
  • Hippanphae Rhamniodes – Sea Buckthorn
  • Berberis Ottawensis Superba
  • Berberis Stenophylla
  • Berberis Gagnepainii
  • Crataegus Monogyna – Common Hawthorn
  • Rosa Fruhlings Gold-Yellow
  • Rosa Rugosa Rubra Crimson
  • Rosa Blanc Double de Coubert


The use of CCTV as a crime prevention and detection tool has grown immensely in recent years. However you must ensure that cameras don’t overlook your neighbours’ private property or focus solely on pavements or public roads.

For further information and advice

You can find more advice on preventing many types of crime on our crime prevention guides page.

You can also speak to our Crime Prevention Unit about protecting your property and reducing your chances of becoming a victim of crime, email Nphub@nottinghamshire.pnn.police.uk

See it? Report it

Remember that you - the public - are our eyes and ears in the fight against crime. If you spot any suspicious activity, please call Nottinghamshire Police to report your concerns.

PDF: 156.61 KB