Farm manager calls for tougher penalties after fuel thieves escape with cautions

Nightlayer Leek Co.

Nightlayer Leek Co. - Credit: Archant

A farm manager has called for tougher penalties for thieves after three men caught red-handed stealing diesel from his property were only handed cautions.

Tony Nightingale, from Haddenham, says the three men admitted their guilt to police and even had cans of petrol and a fuel siphon in their possession when arrested at a farm in Chippenham, on October 5.

But, less than 24 hours later, the trio had been released with just a caution and Mr Nightingale says more must be done to deter thieves.

He said: “I was informed by police that the three people responsible had been released with a caution. After the big effort and cost by everyone, I do not feel this is an acceptable outcome.

“If you have a registration plate missing from a machine you are towing, you will received an on-the-spot fine of £100 and could also face a £100 fine for walking your dog in a public place without a lead on.

“Diesel theft in this area is rife and I think these three people should have faced a tougher penalty.”

Mr Nightingale has been farm manager for Nightlayer Leek Co, of Chatteris, for more than 10 years, and is the first port of call when alarms are tripped at farms across East Cambridgeshire and Fenland.

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At about 8.30pm last Sunday, Mr Nightgale received a call to let him know that an alarm on a diesel tank in Chippenham had been tripped and he immediately contacted police.

Together with his son, Mr Nightingale drove over to the farm and arrived less than 10 minutes later, with a police helicopter and cars also on scene.

Heat-seeking equipment used by the helicopter quickly pin-pointed the three culprits, who were hiding among the leeks near the fuel tank, with cans filled with red diesel in hand.

Mr Nightgale says the trio only managed to steal 75 litres – worth about £50 – but the expense of ordering fresh supplies and delaying his workforce while the new diesel was found cost the business far more.

He said: “The police did a brilliant job, I can’t fault them, but we are disappointed with the result. We are speaking to the Countryside Alliance and we want to speak to our MP as well, there has to be more of a deterrent because diesel theft is not going away.

“The problem is as bad as it’s ever been and it will continue to be unless something is done to put these people off doing it.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is there enough of a deterrent for would-be fuel thieves? Should there be tougher penalties? E-mail or write to Ely Standard, Alexander House, Fore Hill, Ely, CB7 4AF.