Thieves siphon off £5k of diesel fuel

STAFF at a builder’s merchants have been left flabbergasted after 4,000 litres of diesel was stolen from their site.

They arrived for work at The Build Center, Sedlescombe Road North, St Leonards, on Monday morning to find the heating wasn’t working and a quick check of the fuel tank found it was empty - despite having been filled with 10,000 litres in early December.

It is estimated about 4,000 litres - worth about £5,000 – was siphoned off and police are warning that in these tough financial times fuel is an attractive target for thieves. Lee Champion, assistant manager of The Build Center, admitted they had been left amazed.

“It’s a hell of a lot of diesel and it’s been a bit of a nightmare. We don’t know if it happened over the weekend or has been going on for a while, but we do know someone was definitely here at the weekend because our food wagon was broken into.

“Someone must have seen something - the only way to get that much fuel away is by using containers.”

Mr Champion said lorries at The Build Center branch in Northiam had been targeted last year and the fear is hard-up thieves are becoming increasingly opportunistic.

“When I phoned up to order some more diesel they said they had seen a high increase in the number of businesses having fuel stolen. It seems to go through spates - sometimes it’s people taking lead off rooves and then it’s fuel.”

Hastings Police have launched an investigation and would like to speak to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious over the weekend. PC Duncan Cleverley admitted it is not yet clear how the fuel was taken, but he warned: “With the price of fuel being so high at the moment oil and diesel tanks are a target for criminals. I would ask that commercial premises who are unsure if their stocks are secure, call our crime prevention officer Lee Harris for free advice.”

She can be contacted on 0845 6070999.