SEASONAL OIL THEFT A RISK

5. February 2012, 10:58 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Once again winter brings with it the necessity for many to fill their furnace oil tanks and burn an increasingly costly resource in order to keep their homes and organization’s buildings habitable in cooler/colder climates (it is -9 Celcius with a windchill of -15 as I write this — WDM). According to information from Natural Resources Canada, furnace oil prices are up over 20 cents per litre (that’s 91 cents per gallon imperial measure) from the same time last winter. A 910 litre (200 gallon) tank now costs approximately $1065 to fill - before any delivery charges or sales taxes.

Given the price of heating oil it is perhaps not surprising, though contemptible, that those with no scruples find profit in stealing it, sometimes by the tankful. Not only does this leave the victim with no heat, but the possibility they can't afford to refill the tank as many individuals, and community groups, are operating on thin budgets. Over an above the cost to replace the oil, the theives often damage the tank and piping in the process. Tanks are most often accessed through unlocked filler pipes or by cutting the feed line from the tank. They also often steal the copper tubing from the tanks oil feed adding to the victim’s expense, and potentially creating an environmentally damaging situation from leaked oil - which itself can be expensive to clean up.

The following are some ways to help mitigate the risks associated with possible theft of furnace oil, or indeed any liquid that needs storage and may be at risk for theft.

  • Use an indoor tank if possible. This limits accessibility, and reduces the options for a thief. Such tanks can generally only have their contents removed by siphon or pump, unless the thief can gain access to the interior of the building.
  • Tanks with exposed filler pipes should be fitted with padlocks on the filler pipe cover. While not fool-proof it is another layer of security a thief must overcome.
  • Exposed valves and fittings should have protectors hard-bolted in place to prevent tampering or removal.
  • Install anti-siphon or oil safety valves. These valves are designed to cut of the flow of oil from the tank when the line between the valve and the burner/furnace is severed or broken.
  • Replace old oil lines with newer, polyethylene sheathed lines and place them in a hacksaw/cutter resistant metal conduit.
  • Enclosures or fences made from suitable timber fabric or wire mesh with locked doors or gates should envelope the entire tank, including the top, while being large enough to permit full inspection of the tank and its fittings.
  • Where possible tanks should be in well lit areas to help deter thieves. Camera surveillance can also prove a great deterrent. For organizations, having a person check on the tanks on a random basis can often be a deterrent.

It is unfortunate that one even has to consider such steps to protect the heat in one’s home, but the above tips may help mitigate some of the risk fuel thieves represent.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: heating,oil,furnace,theft,seasonal

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