Leading rural insurer NFU Mutual is warning farmers and rural homeowners that high fuel prices are driving a surge in diesel and heating oil theft.
Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Thieves steal whatever they can get their hands on and sell on for a profit – and high diesel and heating oil prices mean there is a growing black market for stolen fuel.
“Fuel thieves are scouring the countryside looking for farm fuel tanks, parked vehicles and even home heating oil tanks which they can empty and sell on the contents.
“We’ve also seen claims rising at commercial premises in north east England with police issuing security warnings.
“It’s a crime which often leaves a trail of destruction as thieves will smash valves and even drill into tanks leading to pollution as any remaining fuel seeps into the ground.
“Our claims data shows that the average cost of a diesel theft claim was £2,120 last year.
“Long winter nights and the festive season with many people’s work and domestic routines disrupted provides opportunities for thieves to operate unseen – so we’re advising anyone with stored fuel to check security measures and keep a look out for suspicious activity.”
As the insurer of three quarters of the UK’s farmers, NFU Mutual has helped to fight rural crime by investing £430,000 in carefully targeted security initiatives this year.
This work includes sponsoring two trials of connected farms using LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology and sensors to detect threats and provide alerts and notifications when there is activity outside and fuel tank levels change.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.