HOMEOWNERS who use oil to heat their homes are being targeted by thieves in a new crimewave sweeping rural areas.

Chipping Sodbury Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant Andy McIlrath has issued a warning to homeowners following a reported theft from Old Sodbury over the weekend.

"With the ever-increasing price of domestic heating oil, thieves are simply syphoning it out of the tanks, which are generally sited away from the house.

"I would recommend people invest in a good quality lock for their tanks because up until now it has not been something you'd generally think of locking up," he said.

Other tips for keeping home oil safe include screening your tank with fencing or hedges, concealing external pipework, installing security lighting and checking that oil is covered by your home contents policy.