EXTRA police patrols are being deployed in rural areas of north Northumberland to try to combat a sharp rise in thefts, including more than £2,000 worth of heating fuel, before it becomes an ‘epidemic’.
Over the last few weeks, the area has been hit by a string of oil raids.
The price of domestic heating oil has risen by 70 per cent in recent months while a survey carried out last year showed that domestic fuel was sixth on the list of top 10 items most commonly stolen from the countryside.
Alnwick Sergeant Neville Wharrier said: “With the recent concern over thefts of heating oil and activity in the rural areas, we are putting extra patrols out and we are working closely with Morpeth and Berwick (police sectors) to stop it becoming an epidemic. But we are also asking the public to be vigilant.”
Between 3.30pm and 9pm on Friday, £350 worth of heating oil was taken from a tank in the garden of an isolated cottage in the Thropton area.
Meanwhile, between January 14 and January 31, £600 worth of oil was siphoned from a tank at a holiday let in Middleton, near Belford, with thieves taking between 500 and 1,000 litres.
Last week, the Gazette reported that £800 worth of kerosene was stolen from Dene House Farm, Longframlington, and £400 worth of fuel was taken from Pauperhaugh Farm House
Reports of oil thefts have increased across the county in the last few weeks.
Police are asking residents with external tanks to make sure they are secure and that they monitor how many litres of fuel they get delivered, and how much they are using, so any thefts can be reported immediately.