Fuel oil theft rises as thieves go high-tech

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Police are warning of the dangers of internet savvy thieves

A SCOTS police officer has urged homeowners to use military-style camouflage to protect their fuel supplies from thieves.

PC Mark Singleton believes cunning crooks are using satellite imagery to target homeowners’ tanks of oil for theft.

The officer has advised farmers and other people living in rural areas of Midlothian to use moss and bushes to disguise the precious stores from online spies.

The soaring price of oil means some homeowners and rural businesses who do not get mains electricity or gas have stores of fuel worth thousands of pounds.

Online satellite imagery makes it possible for criminals to zoom in to these properties and spot the fuel tanks. They can then work out a plan for stealing the oil.

PC Singleton, a community officer for the Gorebridge area, said: “What thieves are taking to is using things like Google Maps.

“That’s why during crime prevention survey, I encourage people, if they can, to camouflage their tank from the air.”

In one recent case, some 2000 litres of gas, worth £1,700, were stolen from from a tank at Newlandrig, near Vogrie Country Park.

Police have also encouraged residents that are worried that they may be burgled to plant “jaggy bushes” around their property in an effort to prevent thieves from targeting it.

These bushes can also help track down the perpetrator as they can cut the culprit, leaving DNA evidence such as blood or even a bit of cloth, possibly leading to their apprehension.

The officer added: “Residents just need to be vigilant. They should look out for flat-bed trucks carrying external tanks or other vehicles being driven suspiciously, and contact police if they are concerned.”

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