Gardaí are asking farmers to be wary of fuel thefts following a number of robberies which have occurred in Laois and Offaly recently.

"Once it has a value, it's going to be a target. It's like catalytic convertors, fuel is the very same," Laois-Offaly crime prevention officer Graham Kavanagh told the Irish Farmers Journal.

He said that these thefts are not always the fuel tanks at the side of a domestic house in a housing estate, they can often be in a farmyard too.

People are asked to check oil levels frequently and try to arrange smaller but more frequent oil deliveries.

Installing automatic movement sensor security lighting around the tank is another way to mitigate against such thefts, while planting shrubs or putting fencing to screen tanks from view from the road is advised also.

Gardaí also say that people should consider fitting an alarm system which warns if the oil level drops suddenly.

Ultimately, gardaí say to be be vigilant following a delivery of oil or diesel.

Examples of improving security of domestic heating oil tanks include:

1. Sitting the oil tank:

The position of the tank can have a significant effect on how easy a target it is. Place the tank as close to the house as regulations allow and in view of one or more windows. This may make the thief consider the chance of being seen too high to risk. Also, ensure the tank is not visible from the road to passing traffic.

2. Security lights:

Security lights can have a very positive effect and make property a much harder target.

3. Defensive planting:

Defensive planting is nature's way of helping to reduce crime. Thieves will not wish to force their way through or over a prickly hedge. Also, planting such as trees or hedging can be used to make the oil tank less visible from the road to passing traffic.

4. Lock:

A good-quality closed shackle padlock fitted to the tank opening should be your starting point.

5. Securing the oil tank:

A wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection to the tank and is probably the strongest method of target hardening. A metal or grill cage with a lockable access point across the top of this wall or fence can further improve security.

6. Oil level gauges:

Remote electronic oil level gauges are available which will set off an audible alarm when the oil level drops dramatically, as would happen if there were a leak or theft, and alerts the receiver unit. There are units on the market today that will even send a text alert to your mobile phone.

7. CCTV:

Installing CCTV may sound extreme. However, small infra-red cameras are fairly cheap these days. A covert camera to record the number plates of any cars or vans entering your driveway could also help. It may not stop theft, but could help trace the perpetrators later. Placing a highly visible camera on your property may act as a deterrent, especially in areas where natural surveillance is scarce.

8. Monitored alarm:

A lot of farmers in particular are going for new security products on the market which monitor your yard by wireless beams when you are not there. When activated, if somebody enters your yard, you are notified on your phone by a monitoring station.