FUEL thieves operating in rural communities are now targeting homeowners.
A wave of diesel and oil thefts has hit farms, homes and businesses in Oldcastle, Milton Green, Malpas, Tattenhall and Farndon with criminals stealing from exterior oil and red diesel tanks.
PC Tony Owens of Cheshire Police said that, fuel thefts are becoming more bold in their efforts despite a recent drop in oil prices.
He said: “I would advise the public to please be vigilant and secure your tanks as offenders often take a few gallons at a time from full tanks so the thefts can go unnoticed.
“We would obviously advise people to make all areas of their home secure, including sheds, garages and exterior tanks, but also to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.
“The best advice I can give is to have some form of security lighting, lock gates and fit alarms to sheds and outhouses where appropriate.”
Fourth generation farmer Derek Dutton, of Barton Road, Farndon fears fuel thieves will only increase their activity in rural areas.
Thieves targeted his farm in June and stole “red” diesel, an agricultural fuel which is subject to a reduced rate of excise duty and is chemically marked and dyed.
He said: “It was in the middle of the day, about 11.30am. They just came into the farm, filled up and left. I couldn’t believe how cheeky they were.
“I had unlocked the tank to fill up a tractor so I think they could have been watching and waiting.
PC Owens added: “Cheshire Police have the ability to detect red diesel and if we see a vehicle showing the tell-tale signs we have no hesitation in stopping them and checking their fuel tanks.
“Using red diesel in unauthorised vehicles is a serious offence.”