Businesses and venues with catering facilities are being urged to be extra vigilant and increase security following suspected used cooking oil theft.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: "Although a motive has yet to be established, it’s known that used cooking oil has been targeted by organised criminals in other parts of the UK to use in diesel cars."

"In the meantime, owners and catering managers are advised to make sure premises are secure and used cooking oil is kept in a safe place before it is collected for recycling."

Police have issued the following steps to help protect used cooking oil from criminals

• Ask suppliers for locking barrels. Many cooking oil barrels have a securing ring around the top which can be padlocked to prevent siphoning

• Ensure CCTV cameras and security lighting are installed to help deter thieves

• Keep used oil barrels indoors if it is safe do so, or ensure they are out of reach of opportunistic thieves

• Regular monitoring of used cooking oil levels will indicate if a theft has occurred. Alarms can also be installed in containers if it falls below a certain level

What to do if someone claiming to be from the council, utility company or even the police turns up at your front door or place or work unannounced?

Here’s some key steps you can take to prevent burglaries by bogus workers or officials:

• use your door viewer to see who’s there

• if you open the door put the chain on first

• always ask for ID and check it with the company or organisation before letting somebody into your home or business

• use the phone number advertised on an official website or online, as the number on their identity card could be fake. For a utility company, call the customer service department. Close the door while you do this

• remember that genuine callers won’t mind checks. If you feel at all unsure, schedule a time for the caller to come back when a friend or relative is there

• for pre-planned appointments with councils or utility companies, a password scheme can be set up

Always remember..."If in doubt, keep them out!"

Making a report

Please report any suspicious people or vehicles in your area via the North Yorkshire Police website or by calling 101. Even the smallest piece of information can prove to be crucial in making arrests and securing justice for victims.

If you feel threatened or in danger by the presence of the caller, please don’t hesitate to call 999 for an emergency response.