Furnace oil stolen

Blair Cotton, with the Victoria West United Church, says it will be costly to replace furnace oil stolen from the church.

Two churches in western Prince Edward Island have been the target of thieves who stole hundreds of litres of furnace oil.

Police were called about the thefts on Thursday. It's estimated up to 500 litres was pilfered from each tank.

That’s a big hit for small rural churches that can find it tough to stay afloat. The break-ins and thefts might mean cuts to outreach programs.

"We're trying to survive,” said Blair Cotton, with Victoria West United Church. “And it means we do some fundraising, and things like that. And it's hard to survive because the money's not there anymore.

“So when you start losing oil, and you have to replace it — you know it's costly."

Another church down the road was also hit. RCMP are investigating. They aren’t sure how many people are involved, or how they transported the oil.

Cotton has no idea who might have done it.

But heating oil is in heavy demand as the weather cools. Karen Mallett runs the Salvation Army's home heating assistance program in Prince County.

"The situation is pretty grim,” she said. “The majority of our clients last year, when we interviewed them to fill out the application for the oil program, they're filling up jerry cans."