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Warning over stolen oil

PUBLISHED: 07:28 31 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:35 07 July 2010

Householders are being warned to be on their guard against fuel thefts after criminals stole about 700 litres of heating oil from a 97-year-old mid-Norfolk woman.

HOUSEHOLDERS are being warned to be on their guard against fuel thefts after criminals stole about 700 litres of heating oil from a 97-year-old mid-Norfolk woman.

Betty Branch, from Bradenham, and her carer Gilly McIntosh were left fretting that Mrs Branch would not have enough heating oil to last her over the festive season as a result of the crime.

It happened between 7.30pm on Monday, December 21 and 1.30pm the following Wednesday.

Norfolk police said there had been a marked increase in heating oil thefts last January and there was a chance of a repeat of this

in the new year.

They urged people to take suitable precautions.

Ms McIntosh discovered that about £350 of fuel had been taken from Mrs Branch's tank.

She said on Christmas Eve: "They have taken at least 700 litres of heating oil.

"There is about six inches of heating oil left, and we do not know how long that will last. It is sickening to think people are targeting a vulnerable lady."

Mrs Branch said: "It is a very sad thing that people have to do this sort of thing at Christmas. I am very disgusted."

A police spokesman said: "Norfolk Constabulary saw a marked increase in heating oil thefts in January 2009.

"With the new year fast approaching, there is a possibility the same could happen.

"We would therefore urge home-owners to ensure they take the necessary measures to secure their tanks.

"Rural properties where tanks are out of sight can be particularly vulnerable.

"We would also like to hear

from anyone who may have spotted any suspicious vehicles in their area and anyone who may have been offered cheap fuel for sale.

"Those tempted by such offers should remember that a

source of cheap fuel for some is a source of misery for others."

Police records show there were 19 reports of heating oil thefts in Norfolk in December 2008, 41 in January 2009, 25 last February 2009 and 25 last March.

Anyone with information about heating oil thefts, including the fuel stolen from Mrs Branch, is being asked to call Norfolk police on 0845 456 4567 or Crime-

stoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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