High heating oil prices lead to thefts, leaving many out in the cold

High heating oil prices have led to a spike in thefts, reports ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

All UK homes need heat, all are hit by higher fuel prices - but not all heating fuels are protected by the energy price cap.Around 1.7 million households use heating oil. Costs have spiralled with no regulation to help desperate households. Compounding their problems, there has now been a spike in thefts of domestic heating oil.

We spoke to Linda Duffin in Suffolk who has been a victim of heating fuel thefts twice. She told me: "Given that they nicked about 1,100 litres that’s about £1,000 at current prices, it’s because oil prices are going up and either it has a resale value or it means the thieves don’t need to buy their own."

Linda Duffin in Suffolk has been a victim of heating fuel theft twice Credit: ITV News

New figures given to ITV News by the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association show prices averaged between 60p - 70p a litre in mid-February. They more than doubled to £1.40 - £1.50 per litre after the invasion of Ukraine.

Though declining from that peak, they are between still £1 - £1.10 a litre on average - and prices remain volatile.Police are reporting a rise in thefts from people's oil tanks in many rural areas including Suffolk, Aberdeenshire, Derry, Strabane, Devon and Cornwall. In other areas crime alerts have been issued, including in West Mercia and Lancashire.Northern Ireland is especially affected by these prices, with half a million homes using heating oil. One supplier there, David Irwin, told us: "Prices have started to drop but there are no guarantees with the way this Russian thing is going to go and prices can actually go up again, we are not confident they will not go up."

Citizens Advice can help people with information and applications for grants to help with heating their homes

The government shows no sign of extending the energy price cap to this type of heating fuel. They stress that they are driving £6 billion into making homes more energy efficient over the next 10 years.

But it seems the energy price cap will continue to leave many out in the cold.