Yesterday, it emerged that some heating oil distributors were charging just under 80p a litre for fuel – an increase of 73 per cent in three months. Crude oil, which has risen in price by 17% recently, is linked to the price of heating oil which has also risen as a result.
Critics are now accusing energy companies of using this link as way of profiteering. As a result of critics and complaints, The Office of Fair Trading is now looking for evidence of price-fixing.
This increase is also ten times a bigger rise endured by gas customers, which is estimated to add as much as £540 to the annual heating bills of the 800,000 homeowners in Britain who depend on the fuel.
The rise in price has appeared to result the increase in thefts of heating oil from rural properties.
Police reported that several oil tanks in Somerset had been targeted by a gang of thieves. There had also been at least 13 thefts of oil and gas from homes, schools and even a nursing home in recent weeks.
On top of this, Suffolk has seen ten thefts reported since the beginning of the month, with a total of 4,000 litres taken. In Kent, police said there had been 20 heating oil thefts since the beginning of winter.
With gang theft on the rise, police are urging homeowners to fit good quality padlocks or alarms to their tanks and to possibly install cameras or lights to protect their supplies.