Fuel oil thieves target churches

By DeeAnna Haney | Feb 20, 2014

Three local churches have been victims of fuel larceny this year and authorities are still attempting to identify a suspect in the cases.

Detectives with the Haywood County Sheriff's Office are investigating a case involving theft of about 125 gallons of fuel oil from the Full Gospel Holiness Church in Canton, said Det. Bruce Warren.

Pastors at the church reported the theft Feb. 16 after they found their sanctuary cold and the lock had been cut off the fuel tank.

"They took all they could get out of that tank," Warren said of the unknown suspect.

Warren said he does not believe the case is ongoing or recurring, but the person responsible for this theft could also be the same suspect in other similar crimes in Canton.

Most recently someone siphoned heating fuel from the oil tank behind Calvary Baptist Church in Canton, which was reported Feb. 18.

The pastor of the church told police the tank had been filled Jan. 30, according to a report from the Canton Police Department. After hearing of other churches being targeted of the crime, the pastor went to check the oil tank at his church and noticed that half of the oil was gone.

Canton detectives are also investigating a similar case from early January when fuel oil was reported stolen from tanks at First United Methodist Church of Canton.

Anyone with any information about any of the cases is urged to call the Haywood County Sheriff's Office at 452-6666 or the Canton Police Department at 648-2376.