WALSOKEN: Businessman creates shelter to protect oil tanks and fight growing crime

Story by: TOM JACKSON A FENLAND businessman could have found a solution to oil thefts across the region, after teaming up with a neighbourhood watch scheme to fight the growing crime. Steve Thompson s oil tank shelter follows on from the wheelie bin stora

Story by: TOM JACKSON

A FENLAND businessman could have found a solution to oil thefts across the region, after teaming up with a neighbourhood watch scheme to fight the growing crime.

Steve Thompson's oil tank shelter follows on from the wheelie bin storage unit which went into production earlier this year at his Walsoken business, WHM Anglia.

Mr Thompson said: "We have set up a trial run in Fenland and if you walk past it you wouldn't realise there is an oil tank inside - it just looks like a garden shed.


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"It's all fitted with top-of-the-range security and will hopefully stop a crime that is going through the roof across the UK."

The new product was revealed as Wisbech police issued tips to residents to prevent heating oil theft, through the E-cops scheme. In the last few weeks there have been several reports of thefts from Wisbech and the surrounding area.

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Police advice includes:

• Moving containers to a less vulnerable position and away from public sight,

• Having a smaller quantity of heating oil delivered,

• Regularly checking the level of oil in the container, and

• Having lockable caps fitted to containers.

Wisbech St Mary resident Wendy Howard has already bought one of the shelters for her home and said: "I am thrilled that it not only solved the problem of an unsightly oil tank, it gave me an attractive feature in my garden.

"And, more importantly, it overcame the concerns I had with protecting my property."

The project was launched after members of the Norfolk Homewatch scheme looked at Mr Thompson's wheelie bin storage unit design at the Norfolk Police Gala Day, held in August.

Mr Thompson was then asked to come up with a design to protect oil tanks, as Norfolk Homewatch looks to fight back against hundreds of oil thefts from static tanks across the county.

Ed Moss, Homewatch administrator for West Norfolk, thinks the shelter will deter the majority of opportunist thieves, who will not want the hassle of breaking into a shed before reaching the tank.

Mr Moss said: "We have had more than 300 incidents of theft of oil from static tanks across Norfolk in the last year, but this looks like a good product and will do the job.

"We will endorse this product to scheme members, especially members who have been victims of oil theft.

"The cost of replacing a fuel tank costs a lot of money and, if you are targeted once, the chances are you are going to be targeted again - and there is only so much insurance companies will pay out. About £300 or £350 for the shelter is not a lot of money in the long term to protect your oil tank."

Mr Thompson sponsors the Norfolk Homewatch scheme, as part of an ethos to fit security devices to all new-build sheds.

He hopes to secure support for the scheme from the Environment Agency, and hopes to achieve the 'Secure by Design' award from the Association of Chief Police Officers.

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