Insurer's diesel theft threat for farmers

A leading rural insurer has warned 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 that thieves stole whatever they could get their hands on and sell on for a profit – and high diesel and heating oil prices mean there was 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,” said Davidson.

She said that fuel theft was often a crime which left a trail of destruction as thieves would smash valves and even drill into tanks leading to pollution as any remaining fuel would seep into the ground – with claims data showing that the average cost of a diesel theft claim was £2120 last year.

“Long winter nights and the festive season with many people’s work and domestic routines disrupted provide 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.”

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As the insurer of three quarters of the UK’s farmers, she said NFU Mutual had helped to fight rural crime by investing £430,000 in carefully targeted security initiatives during 2021. This included 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 was activity outside and fuel tank levels change.

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