A CASH-strapped animal sanctuary and visitor centre has slammed the callous diesel thieves who targeted their site over the festive season.
Two lorries at the Northcote Heavy Horse Centre at Great Steeping had their fuel tanks drained by thieves at some time over the Christmas period.
Although the tanks weren’t completely full, the financial hit still couldn’t have come at a worse time for the centre.
And centre owner Terena Bolam has described the incident as “worrying”.
She said: “My husband went to start one of the lorries and noticed that the fuel gauge didn’t register.
“He dipped the tank and it was dry, when we know that had been diesel in there.
“Two of the lorries had been drained. There wasn’t a massive amount of fuel in them - around £30 or £40 each I think - but it’s still fuel that we needed to replace.
“We’ve also had to pay for locks to put on the tanks to stop it happening again.
“But it isn’t just the financial cost. Because they were diesel engines their systems had to be bled before they could be used - it wasn’t just a case of going out and buying fuel.
“One of the vehicles is the horse box. So if we’d had to use it urgently we’d have been unable to do so.”
The financial blow couldn’t have occured at a worse time for the centre as the harsh economic climate has left things “touch and go”.
During the summer the site had to appeal for added donations amid fears it would be forced to close.
“Things are fairly touch and go financially at the moment,” continued Terena.
“The appeal donations kept us going until Christmas, when we hoped our annual Christams gift catalogue would generate money.
“That normally generates the funds needed to last us through to the start of the tourist season, but this year we actually lost £6,000 on the Christmas catalogue.
Meanwhile the centre has thanked four Lincs businesses for their help in rennovated the pony shed at the site.
Burdens of Lincoln, Jacksons of Horncastle, DBS of Horncastle and Spencers Plant Hire of Bratoft all contributed to the work free of charge.
The centre will re-open over the February half-term school holiday, from Sunday, February 12 to Wednesday, February 15 inclusive.
If you would like to donate to the Heavy Horse Centre call Terena on 01754 830286 or 07899 815960.
Or visit www.northcotehorses.com.