Police issue warning after fuel thieves target Coldstream area

EARLIER this year ‘The Berwickshire News’ carried stories on a number of thefts of fuel and farm equipment in Berwickshire and now thieves have struck again, prompting Lothian and Borders Police to issue advice to those in the local agricultural industry.

Sometime between Saturday, September 24, and Wednesday, October 5, approximately 750 litres of heating oil was stolen from a property in the Coldstream area.

This is one of a series of incidents reported to police recently and following similar thefts of heating fuel last year over the winter months, officers want to raise Berwickshire residents’ awareness of the crimes and urge them to take reasonable precautions to prevent these types of incidents taking place.

PC Nicholas Walker, Community Beat Officer at Coldstream, suggests:

* Completing an inventory and keeping a note of how many litres you are using, so any thefts of fuel are discovered immediately.

* Installing good security lighting and position it so it illuminates any fuel tanks, farm or private vehicles and agriculture machinery. Position the lights so that no one can reach them and if you do have neighbours please ensure this will not cause them any difficulties.

* Installing a driveway alarm. In conjunction with this place overt signage at the entrance of the driveway stating the premises are alarmed and monitored.

* Looking at where your fuel tank is sited - is it located behind outbuildings out of view? Can it moved and positioned within sight of nearby domestic buildings, relocated inside a suitable secure outbuilding, fenced in or buried underground?

* Defensive planting is nature’s way of helping to reduce crime. These shrubs can, if planted around your tank, provide an effective and decorative thief proof barrier.

* Consider using a locking device on either the tap or the filler cap. A high quality closed shackled padlock will make access with bolt cutters difficult.

* Consider fitting an alarm to your tank, this will alert you when unlawful entry is gained .

* There are products available such as Tank Guard which surrounds the existing storage tank with a metal enclosure. This enclosure has lockable access doors to allow filling and maintenance and has internal anchorage points to fix it to the concrete base. Enclosures like these can cost less that one tank of oil and will last many years.

In addition, local police would like to take the opportunity to remind farm owners to be extra vigilant and ensure that, where possible, their farm vehicles and other valuable items of property are securely locked in outbuildings.

This follows recent reports of quad bike thefts in the Borders.

The police are urging the public that anyone who sees a person or people acting suspiciously in or near farmland, or neighbouring properties, to contact their local station immediately.

Anyone who thinks they may have some information on the Coldstream thefts which could help police to identify those responsible, should contact the police station at Hawick on 01450 375051.