INDIAN HEAD, Md. (WJLA) - The Charles County Sheriff's Office is warning businesses and residents about a problem they say gets bad all over the D.C. area this time of year -- thieves stealing heating oil.
Two places in the town of Indian Head were hit sometime over the weekend. The thieves stole a total of more than 500 gallons of oil.
One of the thefts was essentially from the town's taxpayers -- the oil was stolen from a tank that provides heat to a town building.
Indian Head director of community affairs Karen Wiliams tells ABC7 she arrived at work on a chilly Monday morning this week and discovered the heat wasn't working.
She called maintenance, which eventually discovered the oil tank behind the building was empty.
"It's disturbing and frustrating," Williams said. "Because the cost of heating oil isn't cheap."
The Charles County Sheriff's Office says about 270 gallons of fuel were stolen from the town's tank.
Just a short distance away, what was likely the same crook or crooks stole 240 gallons from a tank at the Perseverance Lodge over the weekend.A lodge member tells ABC7 this is the fifth time in recent years the lodge has had heating oil stolen, and it has cost a lot of money.
Indian Head town council member Randy Albright says it's the third time in three years the town has been hit. He says the latest theft cost taxpayers about a thousand dollars, which for a town of around 4000 people is a considerable amount.
"We're just hoping that somebody reaches out and provides us with insight as to who this person was," Albright said.
The Charles County Sheriff's Office says it's likely the thief or thieves are using a pickup truck with either large drums or coolers in the back. They likely back up close to the oil tanks and then siphon the oil.
Spokesperson Diane Richardson says the thieves are likely acting in a manner that they hope will make others think they're supposed to be near the oil tanks.
She says if you have even the least doubt whether someone is supposed to be near an oil tank, give authorities a call.
She adds that as winter approaches it becomes more common for thefts of heating oil to happen. She adds that it's a DC-area wide problem.