HOMEOWNERS across County Limerick who have outside tanks for storing home heating oil are being advised to ensure they are properly secured.
At a meeting of the County Limerick Joint Policing Committee (JPC) at County Hall this week, the head of the Limerick garda division said the number of reported thefts of home heating oil has increased across the Limerick garda division in recent weeks.
He said the theft of “other property” increased slightly across Limerick during August, September and October and there are fears a bigger increase will be recorded before the end of the year.
At present, Kerosene costs around 90cent per litre so the average household tank is likely to contain hundreds of euro worth of fuel.
Commercial tanks or tanks in farmyards are likely to hold considerably more.
Following the drop in temperatures in recent weeks, many householders have filled or topped up their oil tanks ahead of what is expected to be a harsh winter.
Chief Supt David Sheahan told the JPC meeting that the increase in such offences is of concern to gardai and that a plan to combat such incidents is being drawn up.
He said homes in rural areas of County Limerick are particularly vulnerable - especially during the day if the occupants of the house are all working.
However, homes in urban areas are also being targeted by thieves who can syphon fuel from tanks in a matter of minutes.
In addition to having to replace the stolen fuel, affected homeowners may also be faced with large repair bills if their heating system become air-locked as a result of the oil being stolen.
Chief Supt Sheahan says that homeowners should try to conceal outside oil tanks from public view where possible by erecting fencing or hedging.
He says, they should also put a lock on them.
“We would urge people if they have home heating oil that there is a lock on the system and to make sure that it is in an area where they can access and see it so they can check it on a regular basis so as to prevent the likes of this happening,” he said.
In an effort to highlight the issue and to advise homeowners how to prevent such crimes from happening, Chief Supt Sheahan said gardai will be setting up information stands at big public events such as the Kilmallock Mart.
“We are proposing to hold a retail stand at the likes of the marts in the county with a view to giving crime prevention advise - particularly for rural places so we can help prevent some of these things from happening,” he said.