As the shortage of drivers impacts the availability of fuel at the forecourt, the NFU Mutual is urging farmers to be vigilant and to strengthen security as the risk of theft increases.
Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Diesel is essential to keep agriculture running and to keep the nation fed. We have found that price rises and fuel shortages in the past have seen thieves target farms.
“We are urging farmers to be vigilant and to strengthen security, in case a prolonged shortage sees fuel thieves return to the countryside.
“In 2020, even during a year of lockdowns, thieves continued to steal fuel in large quantities and our claims data has found the average cost of diesel theft in the countryside was £2,120. In 2019 the average was £2,327.
“Fuel theft not only grinds farm work to a halt but criminals often cause damage getting into tanks and spilling fuel. Often the consequence of attack is an escape of fuel with the potential for serious pollution problems, which are difficult and extremely costly to clean up and which may present increased fire risks.”
The NFU Mutual is investing over £430,000 in targeted initiatives to tackle rural crime 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.
To protect fuel supplies, the NFU Mutual has issued the following advice:
- Record the number, location, capacity and date and times when tanks are filled, as well as regularly checking levels.
- Where possible, locate the tank to where it can be viewed from the farmhouse. Tanks located away from buildings or dwellings are more vulnerable.
- If possible, tanks should be within an enclosed compound with secured access.
- Fit a ful tank alarm to notify you of an attack on tanks. Remote electronic fuel gauges will set off an audible or monitored alarm if the fuel level suddenly drops or falls below a define level.
- Keep field and farmyard gates closed and locked, and block exit points that aren’t used.
- Activate intruder alarm systems.
- Install security lighting to illuminate suspicious activity.
- Use locking caps on machinery.
- Keep tractors and powered machinery locked up and out of sight.
- Check your fuel gauge does not show any irregularities.