Google Maps can be used by criminals to find out where oil tanks are situated on people’s property, a Clare county councilor has warned.

Councilor Alan O’Callaghan, who is in the fuel business, said there is a perception that fuel criminals have local knowledge or are following oil trucks, but he feels the Internet is also being used as a tool.

“People need to be aware that you can go onto Google Maps and see exactly where people’s oil tanks are so it might not be local knowledge,” O’Callaghan said at a meeting of Killaloe councilors, also attended by Garda (police) Chief Superintendent John Kerin, who spoke about home heating oil thefts which had been prevalent during winter months in the past year.

Kerin said there had been 52 reports of fuel theft in 2014 across Clare. He said these figures would have been on par with the previous year.

Regarding this year he said, “Whether or not it is down to the decrease in the price of fuel, it has not been as prominent in December or January of this year.” Kerin said the Gardai had success and had made a number of detections, leading to successful prosecutions of those carrying out the crime.