As the price of heating oil continues to rise and we approach decreasing winter temperatures, properties in rural areas of the UK face increasing risks of oil theft. In light of these risks, members of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) are helping to protect their customers against this worrying trend and are offering advice to landlords of those rural properties particularly at risk.
Around 1.3 million properties – many located in remote, rural areas – depend on heating oil to see them through the winter, paying an average of £900 for 1000 litres of fuel. In a series of incidents affecting areas across the UK, including Lincolnshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Devon, thieves have targeted unsecured heating oil tanks to steal thousands of litres of fuel, which can then be sold on the black market.
Adrian Mealing, Chairman of the BSIA’s Security Equipment Manufacturers Section, discusses how security technology can help decrease these risks: “Isolated locations such as farms are particularly at risk of this rising crime, with commercial and domestic properties both being affected. Security technology, however, can help combat this problem.”
Although the theft of diesel from farmyard tanks is not a new crime, there are a number of security measures that landlords can take to ensure that rural properties are suitably protected against this growing risk.
With a vast amount of security products and services on the market, it is often a good idea to consider more than one measure, employing a combination of solutions that can work together as part of a comprehensive integrated system. By taking this approach, landlords can be reassured that their properties are protected in the most vulnerable areas, using solutions that are fit for purpose and suitable to individual budgets.
Physical security measures – such as gates, fences and locks – are at the forefront of any security strategy, and are recommended by National Farmers Union (NFU) Mutual as an ideal starting point when protecting oil tanks.
Physical security measures are often considered to be the backbone of any premises security, but despite this, they can often be forgotten amongst the vast array of developing electronic security measures. As part of a structured approach to security, physical security provides a fundamental layer of protection that can help prevent crime, or allow personnel enough time to react to a potential threat.
There are several different aspect to physical security. One key area is that of perimeter security, regarded as ‘the front line’ of security perimeter safety measures are perhaps the most crucial in securing any building or area. An early detection of a threat at the perimeter, for example, allows for more time and space for personnel to respond accordingly and alert the police if necessary.
While perimeter security measures can include such basic measures as security fencing, vehicle barriers or lockable gates, electronic security can also play its part, with physical security solutions lending themselves to being linked with an intruder alarm or CCTV system. The inclusion of electronic security can help to ensure that if a detector is activated, an alarm is subsequently triggered or a CCTV system starts recording, providing peace of mind around the clock for both tenants and landlords.
As well as decreasing temperatures, longer hours of darkness during winter months can also lead to an increased risk of burglary and theft in general. James Kelly, Chief Executive of the BSIA, comments: “Throughout the year, we have definitely seen an increase in opportunist crime during the winter season, largely due to the darker nights and properties being left empty for prolonged periods of time.”
For rural properties already benefiting from CCTV coverage, it is important to ensure that the settings on the surveillance are adjusted accordingly during the winter months, to match the change in natural lighting times. If remote monitoring and lighting are controlled separately, for example, ensure that you put the timer back on the lighting after British Summer Time ends. Left out of sync, the monitoring will come on but there will be an unwanted gap before the lighting follows, possibly allowing an intruder to take advantage.
In addition to CCTV, intruder alarm technology can play a particularly significant role in protecting against oil theft. The latest innovation in intruder alarms means that special systems have been developed to alert home and business owners to oil theft, which is of particular relevance to rural properties looking to reduce the risks they face.
BSIA member company, GB Security Group, recently helped one of its customers, George Barnsdale & Sons, based in a small village in Lincolnshire, by installing an ‘Oil Defender’ system.
In the event of an attempted theft, a wireless signal is transmitted from the tank unit to a control unit, which is located in a nearby building. The tank unit also has a tamper sensor, which will detect and warn immediately if either the inspection hatch is opened, or the level of fuel is reducing at a faster rate than normal.
The control unit is directly linked to the customer’s existing monitored alarm system, and upon receiving the wireless signal, the intruder alarm will sound. The system will also send a signal to an alarm receiving centre, where the operators will call keyholders and notify business staff.
Steve Dixon, Technical Director at George Barnsdale & Sons, commented: “We have worked with GB Security Group for many years, and we knew that, when faced with this new problem, they would be able to come up with a solution that would work for us and the complexities of our site.”
Agriculture and rural domestic properties can benefit from this technology, which is available from a number of BSIA member companies. BSIA members are all inspected to high quality standards and offer a reputable service, which is absolutely essential when sourcing security measures for your properties. For more information on the solutions mentioned in this article, or to locate a supplier near you, visit www.bsia.co.uk/company-finder