Oil thieves strike as South Norfolk village primary school’s tank is emptied for third time
- Credit: James Bass
A member of staff at a village school has described her heartbreak after thieves repeatedly stole oil in tanks used to provide heating for young children.
Ellingham Primary School has been targeted three times in six months with thousands of pounds in fuel emptied from the tanks.
Vicky Wood, secretary and finance officer, said the school couldn't afford to continue replacing the oil by dipping into what was already a tight budget.
She said: 'We had a rolling contract with an oil company who came in once a month and topped up our tank as it holds about 2,500 litres. It's always full as we don't want to be caught short and then can't heat the school.
'Then around November time, we came in to find the cap to the tank had been destroyed and the tank had been emptied. It cost us about £1,000 to fill it up again.'
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At the end of April the tank was completely emptied by a thief/thieves again, shortly after it was topped up.
'Unfortunately we couldn't afford to keep filling it up completely so we had a little amount replaced that time and they came and took it out again on May 10,' Mrs Wood added.
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'To steal from anyone is absolutely awful, but to take from a school of 94 children is absolutely heartbreaking. 'We just want to make the community aware of what has been going on.'
Mrs Wood said the school had received support from Norfolk Police and staff were now investigating the installation of CCTV and high tech security lighting.
'Our budget is tight anyway and we have already had to take money out of it,' she added. 'CCTV and lighting will cost hundreds of pounds and we can't let it get to a point where it starts to affect children's resources.
'We have already had to spend £2,500 on oil and its getting close to £3,000 once you factor in everything else such as replacing the lights that were smashed off the wall and the cap to protect the oil. We have cancelled our contract with the company and I'm just keeping a close eye on the oil level so we will only fill it a few hundred litres at a time.'
Joseph Pike, PCSO of Loddon safer neighbourhood team, said: 'We are working closely with the school to try and prevent future crimes from happening.
'Several crime prevention measures have been suggested and along with extra patrols in the area we hope to stop this crime from happening again.
'I would like to appeal for people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.'
Has there been a crime at your school? Email firstname.lastname@example.org