Somerset floods : Thieves target victims

Mounted police deployed after heating oil and fire service quad bikes stolen

Thieves have been targeting flood victims on the Somerset Levels, police said.

Around 600 gallons of domestic heating oil was stolen from a farm in Moorland overnight from Friday to Saturday.

Two fire service quad bikes were taken from Burrowbridge on the same night.

The national police air service (NPAS) helicopter flew over the flood-hit area as a "proactive crime prevention exercise".

Police horses have also been deployed and officers will make regular patrols for a "high-visibility presence" and to reassure residents.

Read more
Britain's floods: We can save the town or the country, but not both, says Environment Agency boss
Why do we insist on building on flood plains?
Prince Charles is right about climate change  

Four extra high volume pumps requested from fire and rescue services around the country have arrived on the Levels, adding to the eight already in use.

Currently, the combined pumping across the moors is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool every 90 seconds.

Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters, of Avon and Somerset Police, who is heading the response to the floods major incident, said: "We are aware of reports in the community of suspicious people and vehicles being seen in the area, particularly after dark.

"We have also heard rumours of people being out in boats at night, but at this stage we have no information to substantiate that.

"Our message to the community is that we will do all we can to protect you and your property. I would ask everyone to be alert, to look out for your neighbours, and to call us at any time if we are needed."

Special Constables and extra neighbourhood officers from the force have been deployed to the area following thefts, believed to have occurred overnight from January 31 to February 1.

Farmer James Winslade said his home had been left without heating or hot water after thieves stole "more than half" the oil from his tank.

The humanitarian support boat operated by a crew from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service arrives from Muchelney, a village near Langport in Somerset still cut off by flood water The humanitarian support boat operated by a crew from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service arrives from Muchelney, a village near Langport in Somerset still cut off by flood water "Because they'd turned it off, that's damaged the pump so now we're without heating and waiting for an engineer," Mr Winslade told the Western Daily Press.

"The problem is that we're getting so many flooding tourists and sightseers coming down here that it's hard to keep track of who's around.

"We've had the fire and police down here a lot, too, but at night it's very isolated. Some of the homes that are empty are being targeted and they are coming across the water on boats to get to them."

On Sunday, volunteers went from house to house on the Levels to check on residents and enquire whether they had concerns or needs such as for fuel and water.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said the force was looking to help to arrange weekly community meetings, where people can ask questions and be kept up to date with developments.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has installed a public access defibrillator in the church hall in Muchelney in case of medical emergency, he said.

"We're asking people not to be flood tourists and not to travel to the Somerset Levels if they don't have a legitimate reason," the force spokesman added.

"It can hamper the work of the various agencies here, and can actually put people in danger."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there