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Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 12:03 UK
Major rise in home fuel thefts
Police forces across the UK have told Newsbeat there's been a huge rise in thieves stealing heating oil from people's homes. Farmers say there's also been a big increase in the theft of diesel. On Sunday, a woman died during a raid on her farm in County Durham after spotting a man taking fuel.

Madeleine Harding
Madeleine Harding checks her home oil supply near Chichester and finds 200 worth has been stolen

Around one and a half million people in the UK use heating fuel.

They generally live in the countryside and have no access to a gas main.

With prices doubling to as much as 60p a litre, it's making it more attractive to thieves.

The first someone will know their oil has been stolen is when they wake up in the morning to a cold house.

It's the same as most things at the end of the day, if they do want to get the fuel they will get the fuel
Mark Nolan, owner of Nolan Oils in Oxfordshire

Madeleine Harding lives with her six-year-old son, Maxwell, in a semi-rural cottage in Westhampnett, Chichester.

Her gate was tampered with during the night and thieves managed to steal 200 of oil from her back garden.

Even the family dog didn't hear it going on.

"I'm still paying for the last lot of oil I had which should have tided me over till Christmas next year.

"So in effect, if I buy some more, which I'm going to have to at some point, I will be paying double."

Mark Nolan owns Nolan Oils in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Mark Nolan and his oil tank
A leading insurance firm says theft of 'red' diesel is up 20% this year
It's a family business which operates five tankers and makes around 50 deliveries a day.

Mark Nolan is becoming increasingly worried about thieves.

He said: "The driver is on the look out all the time for people that might be following us.

"We've had instances where a vehicle tracked us for about two hours.

"We reported it to the local police but unfortunately by the time the police had got there the vehicle had driven away.

"Luckily we got some number plates but they were false plates of course."

Stolen to order

Five police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have told Newsbeat that they've seen a rise in oil theft with officers checking suspicious looking vans at night.

The insurer NFU Mutual says claims for diesel theft has gone up by 10% this year.

Mark Nolan and his oil tanker
Mark Nolan says homeowners should increase security in gardens

It seems some thieves drive unmarked tankers on to drives or gardens while some are more discreet using a silent electric pump to fill up containers.

The oil or diesel is then sold on for people to use in cars or to heat their houses.

It's not just happening in Oxfordshire but across the UK.

Mark Nolan says you can slow thieves down though by installing security.

He advised: "Make sure your garden is secure. Make sure that gates are locked.

"You can also buy locking fuel caps which makes it more difficult.

"But, it's the same as most things at the end of the day, if they do want to get the fuel they will get the fuel."

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