Heating oil theft on the rise

At least $10,000 worth of heating oil has been stolen from Juneau homes so far this year. Since January, Juneau police say there’s been nearly twice the number of thefts than were reported for all of 2010.

The latest was for $200 in oil stolen from a tank at the back of a Lemon Creek area home. It’s prompted police to ask Juneau residents for help.

Spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills says police have no leads in any of the cases.

“We have in 2011 so far 19 cases and I wonder how many have not been reported or never discovered,” Brown-Mills says. “There’s not anyone area of town that’s been more affected than others so we don’t really have a whole lot to go on. This is really something we need the public’s help on if we’re going to catch people doing it.”

Local fuel-delivery companies say they’ve been getting their fair share of complaints about oil thieves, especially now that prices are more than $4 a gallon. Reliable Fuel says calls come in spurts, and have averaged two a month this year.

The best deterrents? Lock the tank, put it behind an enclosure, or install a video camera. Police say be a nosey neighbor and pay attention to what’s happening in your neighborhood.

Taku Oil’s Tim Hansen says locking caps will help, but a determined thief can still get your oil.

“Those plug-type caps seem to work better. They’ll go inside the hole in the tank there, rather than being up on a spout where someone can tip off the fill spout with a pipe wrench,” Hansen says. “Definitely the more obstacles you can put in people’s way, the less likely people are going to try to get some (oil) from you. Below ground tanks are pretty hard to get to.”

Juneau police say anyone with information on stolen oil should call JPD at 586-0600, or remain anonymous and leave a tip at www.juneaucrimeline.com.