POLICE have issued the top 10 tips to stop thieves stealing your red diesel and heating oil this winter.

We reported earlier today how a large quantity of red diesel was stolen from Birtsmorton, near Malvern.

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Now West Mercia Police has issued advice to help prevent other people becoming victims of the thefts.

A spokesperson for West Mercia said: "Your first sign that your tank has been attacked is often when the heating stops working or you notice your fuel storage tank is empty. You may assume there is a fault in your system and an engineer will then diagnose the problem as being that there’s no fuel left.

"Sometimes a smaller amount is taken but often the whole tank may be drained. The methods can be very crude, including drilling or punching holes in the side of the tank and then filling jerry cans or larger containers that are kept in vans, but you can take steps to help prevent these losses."

West Mercia Police's top 10 tips

 • Monitor the level of oil in your tank regularly, ideally this will be every two days.

• Hide the tank from view from the road using hedging, fencing or walling but make sure it is visible from your house.

• Consider security lighting to cover the tank, a PIR system can also alert you in your house to movement at the tank. Consider CCTV options.

• Ask your neighbours to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police. Look after each other

• Padlock the valve but consider that thieves may smash the valve but this involves noise and a lock can deter a less determined thief.

• Make sure your gates are locked when possible and certainly at night, to make it more difficult for a thief to escape with oil.

• Lock your doors at all times if the tank is situated in an outbuilding.

• Consider alarm devices which create an alert if the oil level suddenly drops or if the lock is attacked. These can send alerts to your phone. Some of these alarms use ultrasonic measuring to continually measure the level of oil in your tank. You will then be alerted if the device detects a fast drop in the fuel level within the tank.

• Consider erecting a cage around your tank, this will then help prevent damage to your tank with thieves trying to drill into it.

• Put gravel around your tank as this will create a noise when walked on.