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Diesel thefts more than double in 2022

NFU Mutual is urging farmers to fortify their farmyards to stop thieves from draining their diesel tanks and disrupting food production.

Ensuring the farmyard has effective security in place is the first step to deterring fuel thieves.

Diesel thefts reported to the UK’s leading rural insurer more than doubled in 2022 as the price of diesel rocketed, with latest NFU Mutual claims figures showing the cost of diesel theft rose to a record £886,197 during the year.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite and diesel prices remain close to record levels, the insurer is concerned that diesel raids could continue to increase in coming months.

September was the costliest month last year, with claims amounting to £229,537 compared to £36,237 in 2021.

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Hannah Binns says “With diesel costing around £1.75 at the pumps, farmers’ fuel tanks are now like liquid gold to thieves.

“Farmers need fuel to keep the nation fed, so these thefts are a major concern for agriculture at a time when fast-rising input costs are adding further pressures on rural businesses.

“As well as the loss of vital fuel, thieves often damage tanks leaving fuel running into the ground where it can cause horrendous pollution as well as an increased fire risk.

“We are urging farmers and other rural businesses to review and upgrade their security systems to protect diesel stocks from thieves.”

Ensuring the farmyard has effective security in place is the first step to deterring fuel thieves, says Andy Manson, managing director of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited.

“Where possible, locate fuel tanks where the can be seen from the farmhouse, ideally within an enclosed compound with secured access. It is worth considering fitting a fuel tank alarm to notify you of an attack on fuel tanks.”

NFU Mutual Farm diesel security tips: 

Fuel tanks

  • Where possible locate the tank where it can be viewed from the farmhouse.
  • Ideally tanks should be within an enclosed compound with secured access.
  • Fit a fuel tank alarm to notify you of an attack on fuel tanks. Remote electronic fuel level gauges will set off an audible or monitored alarm if the fuel level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a defined level.
  • Make sure that the tank is suitably bunded to prevent release into the ground, causing pollution.
  • Record the number, location, tank storage capacity and the date/times when tanks are filled and regularly check levels.

Vehicles and machinery

  • Use locking fuel filler caps.
  • Keep tractors and powered machinery locked up and out of sight from public roads and footpaths when not in use, to prevent thieves draining their fuel tanks.
  • Only fill fuel bowsers with the amount needed for the day and return fuel bowsers to locked buildings when not in use.
  • Check your fuel gauge is not showing irregularities in fuel levels.

Site security

  • Keep field and farmyard gates closed and locked, and block exit points that aren’t used.
  • Activate intruder alarm systems, which may have a local sounder or remotely monitored signalling.
  • Install security lighting to illuminate any suspicious activity.
  • Consider fitting motion detectors or CCTV.

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