HEATING oil thefts are still rife in Flintshire’s rural villages.

Thieves are continuing to target fuel tanks in rural communities as the price of oil rockets.

In the most recent spate, the perpetrators have siphoned thousands of pounds worth of oil from tanks in Cymau, Treuddyn, Ffrith and Llanfynydd.

Earlier this year, the Leader reported on a spate of fuel thefts at churches and village halls in Soughton, Gwernaffield, Cilcain, Nercwys and Rhydymwyn, but now police say private homes are the main target.

PC Hazel Goss said: “This started at the end of December in the Pontblyddyn and Leeswood areas, but now the thieves are coming up the hill.

“We tend to get two or three at once and then it goes quiet for a few days.

“All the recent ones have been at private addresses as a lot of the churches and community centres have stepped up security and have only been filling their tanks with a couple of hundred litres at a time.”

The most recent attack was at a house in Llanfynydd on Sunday. Seven people were arrested following the first spate of thefts, but police say no arrests have been made in relation to the latest incidents.

They are now urging oil tank owners to implement security measures such as fitting a padlock or alarm to the fill cap, planting shrubbery around the tank and installing security lighting. PC Goss said there had been about 20 incidents since the beginning of January with the majority of thefts occurring at night.

He added: “It’s only when people go to put their heating on and find it doesn’t work that they realise the oil level is virtually nil.

“We have had more oil thefts than in previous years and one of the problems is the rising price of oil, but also oil is one of the easiest things to steal because the tanks are not alarmed.”

Police are now working with oil delivery companies, including E Cunnah and Son Ltd in Wrexham, and Fueltech Boiler Services in Ruthin, who will deliver crime prevention packs to customers.