Police are concerned about the recent rise in thefts of domestic heating oil in North West Leicestershire, totalling £14,000 in value over the last two months.

In the villages of Worthington, Newbold Coleorton, Breedon, Lount and Tonge there have been 16 thefts reported in the last 60 days.

Similar reports have been received in Worcestershire and Essex, which has been targeted three times over the past few weeks, with one theft worth around £800.

Domestic heating oil is often stored in a tank, which is separate from the owner’s house, and police have always noticed an increase in this type of crime whenever the price of crude oil rises.

North West Leicestershire Police recommend a few simple crime prevention measures to help deter further thefts:

• Check the tank's oil levels on a regular basis, and where possible keep the level of oil as low as necessary to reduce the value of any theft.

• Deter thieves from entering your property by installing lockable gates and by maintaining boundaries and perimeter fencing.

• Plant prickly shrubs or install fences to hide your tank from view. This is especially important if you live close to the road.

• Consider fitting a tank alarm which will be triggered when there is a rapid drop in the oil level.

The Oil Firing Technical Association also offer advice and guidance for those who use and store oil at their premises, and can provide users with an ‘Easy guide to domestic oil storage’.

Sergeant Mark Watson, a neighbourhood team leader based at Coalville Local Policing Unit said: “We have noticed an increase in theft from domestic fuel tankers/containers in North West Leicestershire in recent months. As fuel costs increase, this problem may continue until the perpetrators are captured.

“If you are filling up ahead of the winter months, please be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police by ringing 101 or in an emergency 999. We are also carrying out a leaflet drop in the affected areas, and there will be additional patrols.”