Voluntary canal work in Dauntsey was halted over the weekend after fuel was stolen from the site.

The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust had been working on a restoration project at Dauntsey Lock when thieves took all the diesel from the project's work vehicles.

The diggers, dumper trucks and lorries were left empty which meant delaying important work that was due to happen on Saturday morning.

As well as taking fuel from a digger and a dumper truck the thieves also broke into the canteen trailer by hacking the door down.

When volunteers and workmen arrived on site on Saturday morning they were unable to work.

Mr Jones said: "We were due to have concrete delivered and needed the dumper to move it so we did panic.

"Luckily after a lot of running around we got fuel just in time but it just shows the callousness of people.

"It was a near disaster averted."

Now the organisers are warning other businesses and vehicle owners in the area to be wary.

Farmers and truck owners all over the UK are warned to be on guard for diesel thefts and thieves have even been targeting fuel tanks at people's homes in a bid to avoid paying sky-high prices.

Chairman of the Melksham, Calne and Chippenham branch of the canal trust, Rob Jones, has branded the thieves callous for hindering a charity project.

"I don't think the thieves got as much as they had hoped. It's not like the vehicles had thousands of litres in them but that's not the point.

"I thought it would be worthwhile warning people because it's such a hot topic.

"Whether people are for or against the canal work, it is something happening all over.

"We are all volunteers and we are doing this for Wiltshire. It will be a wonderful thing for everybody when it is finished. But unfortunately some selfish people have to ruin it."

The Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust relies on volunteer groups who are working to restore the canal to full navigation by 2025.

At more than 60 miles the canal represents the longest current restoration project of its kind in the UK.