Farmers with storage tanks full of diesel and oil have become vulnerable to thieves as fuel prices soar, insurance agents warned.

The cost of fuel and fertiliser has rocketed in recent months, exacerbated by the impact of the war in Ukraine on world commodity prices.

Rural insurance broker Lycetts said farmers have become a target for thieves due to their high use of diesel, often bought in bulk to gain reduced prices.

And with farm businesses often located in isolated areas, there are added incentives to store large amounts on-site, prompting warnings to check the security of their tanks.

Eastern Daily Press: Anderson Fossett, of rural insurance broker Lycetts in FakenhamAnderson Fossett, of rural insurance broker Lycetts in Fakenham (Image: Lycetts)

Anderson Fossett, a rural account executive at the firm's Fakenham office, said: “Storage tanks contain thousands of pounds of oil and diesel, so they have an obvious appeal to thieves.

“In recent weeks there have been a number of nationwide incidents of organised gangs siphoning-off fuel. This is no hi-tech, difficult-to-organise crime – a 1,000 litre tank can be drained within minutes.

“Fertiliser theft is also becoming an increasing problem - and yet another consideration that beleaguered farmers will need to take into account.”

Mr Fossett said there are a number of measures farmers can implement to reduce the risk of theft.

“Siting tanks out of view from roads is a sensible precaution,” he said.

“However, many tanks look unattractive and for that reason owners often position them out of sight of the farmhouse. The problem with this is that they locate them in areas of the property that make it easier for thieves to act unobserved.

“Lighting and CCTV cameras can be effective security measures, but it is important to maintain them and test them regularly as they may have become inoperative.

“The actual material tanks are made of should be considered before purchase. Steel ones are much more difficult for thieves to drill through – or carry away.

“Owners could also consider installing secure cages around the tanks.

“Daily checks of oil tank gauges should be made. Technology is also available that sends text messages to multiple mobile phones if there is an unexpected drop in oil levels."