Theft of heating oil leaves children distressed

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Thieves have stolen around £1000 of heating oil from a children’s respite home in Whitehead, police have said.

In a statement on Facebook, the PSNI in Carrickfergus warned the public of a spate of heating oil thefts in the area.

“There was recently a home heating oil theft from a respite home offering temporary accommodation for kids in Whitehead,” it said. “If you have any info about this please contact us on 101 quoting 1034 dated 2/1/18”.

Linda Guthrie, acting deputy manager of the unit, said the discovery was made after staff realised the unit was “very, very cold”.

“Because we knew there had been oil delivered in mid-December, we knew the oil was very likely to have been stolen,” she told the BBC.

She estimated the oil was worth £1000.

The theft had forced the closure of the facility, causing disruption to vulnerable children, many of whom have autism.

“To try and explain to those children that we have to get them home again, they don’t understand this, so their way of reacting to that can be extremely distressing to watch,” she said.

The PSNI warned that as the price of crude oil rises, fuel oil tanks can be seen as rich and easy pickings by thieves.

“This means that’s farms, transport depots and domestic properties can be targeted, particularly in more rural locations. Take simple precautions to help protect your oil.

“1. Lock gates 2. Disguise your tank 3. Create obstacles 4. Limit the quantity of fuel in your tank 5. Lock your tank 6. Fit a level gauge with an audible alarm 7. Consider installing security lighting and cctv.”