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Rural Flintshire communities targeted by oil thieves

HEARTLESS criminals have been targeting rural community buildings to steal heating oil.

Rhydymwyn Memorial Institute’s oil tank has been hit three times by callous thieves in the past six weeks.

St Mary’s Parish Church, Cilcain, has also been affected by the crimewave, with thieves stealing oil from the tank twice in the past few weeks.

And Christ Church, Pontblyddyn, is believed to have been struck four times.

Rhydymwyn Memorial Institute is now without proper heating as chairman Doug Watts is unwilling to fill the tank in case there is a further theft.

He said: “I am extremely angry about this. The institute has lost about £700 from this and it is so serious it could lead to the loss of a popular facility.

“The institute is used at the moment by two groups and will have two heaters in there for now, because I’m not prepared to refill the tank again in case these thieves return.”

St Mary’s Parish Church’s minister, Rev Adrian Copping, said: “It seems to me they are targeting particularly vulnerable areas.

“It’s very disappointing and we have had a situation where a school was coming for a Christmas concert. Fortunately, we were able to get more heating available for that.

“We also had a funeral and thankfully the people in Cilcain Chapel were able to arrange the event.

“The family were very much consoled by the help from the community.

“I know the police are very actively monitoring the situation and are aware of a pattern in these thefts.”

Cilcain community beat manager Gary Aldous said: “These are all night-based offences and we are after reports of any suspicious activity from people around van-type vehicles.

“Obviously the fuel costs are sky high at the moment and the perpetrators believe this is a victimless crime, which it is not.

“The churches and institutes are suffering and those who have not been hit directly are now in fear they might be next.

“We have got an operation running at the moment but we are reliant on the public to help us on this one.”

Last month the Chronicle reported how rural homes and churches in Gwernaffield, Nercwys, Penyffordd, Rhydymwyn and Treuddyn had been affected by oil thefts.