Pet dog killed in wave of fuel thefts

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:58 21/07/2014

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A family dog allegedly killed while burglars were stealing fuel from a property in Hope, south of Nelson, last week is proof of the lengths that people will go to in a current wave of fuel thefts around the region, says Sergeant Dave Prentice.

Police are warning the public to be extra vigilant about securing fuel after growing concern about the number and frequency of fuel thefts from properties in the Nelson Bays area in recent months. They are also concerned at the methods being used to steal the fuel.

Prentice said in the most recent incident, in Hope in the early hours of last Thursday, police believed the offenders might have been disturbed by the owner's dog. Cans of diesel were found hidden in a hedge and the family's labrador was found dead nearby.

He declined to give more details other than to say it appeared as if the dog might have been poisoned in some way. If it turned out that the death of the family pet had been the result of the offenders' actions, he would have serious concerns about what that person or group of people might do next.

"It's unusual and extreme and, if anything, it shows the lengths people could be going to for something as ridiculous as fuel.

"If people are going to those levels it's just really nasty, and it has an emotional cost as well."

Prentice said fuel theft seemed to be a developing trend, with two more incidents reported over the weekend.

Between April 1 and July 2, 50 fuel thefts were reported from properties between Richmond and Motueka.

Prentice said burglaries of diesel and petrol in the weekend were also in the same areas.

The incidents have included offenders forcing entry into enclosed yards, siphoning industrial machinery such as diggers parked on the roadside and siphoning from farm vehicles, farm storage tanks and cars. Fuel tanks have also been taken from boats.

The biggest single theft was 1500 litres of aviation gas in a tanker taken from the Motueka airport. The tanker was later found abandoned and empty on Maisey Rd, Appleby.

Prentice said the "brazen" theft involved someone hooking up the tanker to a vehicle and towing it away. He said aviation fuel was not limited to use in aircraft, it could also be used in some types of vehicle, particularly performance cars. "Sometimes it's just the fact it's there - that's enough for some people to take it, and maybe make some money at the cost of someone else."

He said police would like to speak to anyone who has information about people involved in this type of offending and anyone who had seen people acting suspiciously.

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"If anyone sees a vehicle acting suspiciously or behaviour that could be linked to a fuel theft they should call 111 immediately."

Prentice said people could also call the main Nelson police number, 03 546 3840, to report anything suspicious. People should try and get the registration details of any vehicle involved.

- The Nelson Mail

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