POLICE IN Wiltshire are investigating more than 30 fuel thefts from homes and businesses in the space of three months.

Several recent incidents have been reported in the Malmesbury area including £1,350 of red diesel from a storage tank on a farm at Dauntsey Lock and 500 litres of heating oil taken from tank at Sherston.

The fuel tank of a lorry parked up at Ashton Keynes was also drained less than a month ago and 1,000 litres of heating oil was stolen from a home in Dauntsey in the same week.

Det Sgt Jo Clement from the crime management unit explained: “The price of fuel remains high and a valuable target for thieves.

“Many heating oil users stock up for winter which is why we often see a spike at this time of year and the very setup of Wiltshire as a primarily rural county makes us prone to this type of crime. “ A total of 33 thefts or attempts have been recorded since the start of the year, many of them from oil tanks in gardens or red diesel from machinery. In one case an entire fuel bowser containing 1,000 litres of gas oil was stolen from a building site in Swindon.

Sgt Clement said neighbourhood policing and rural crime teams were working hard to raise awareness of the problem and encourage people to use services like Farm Watch and social media to alert fellow residents.

A combined campaign with Wiltshire Council was also launched last month in an attempt to cut rural crime. As well as dealing with incidents like theft, the initiative means people found causing damage to land, hare coursing or other antisocial behaviour are likely to find themselves saddled with ASBOs.

Police are advising residents to consider installing CCTV, fitting security lighting and fix remote oil level gauges to their tanks which set off an audible alarm if the level drops suddenly. .Close shackle padlocks, fences and defensive planting of prickly hedges are also suggested.