Fuel thieves have left a woman dead after she confronted them at her home. The woman’s son is seriously injured and is in hospital.

Rosemary Dove, 68, collapsed and died on Sunday night at her home in East House Farm in Bishop Middleham, Co Durham after she and her husband Frank confronted thieves who were in the process of stealing diesel fuel from their farmhouse.

Frank Dove, and their son, Michael, chased the fuel thieves across a field, but Michael suffered a double hip-fracture and head injury as he was knocked into a ditch by the thieves’ pick-up truck. Mrs Dove managed to call 999 as her husband gave chase, but collapsed and died shortly after.

Michael Dove was taken to hospital in North Tees.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Harker says: ‘At this stage it’s not clear exactly how many people were in the pick-up. We urgently need any help that will lead us to those involved in this tragic series of events, which have left the Dove family absolutely devastated.’

Durham Constabulary report that there have already been 184 cases of fuel theft between January and April this year, up from 102 last year.

Police appeal for anyone in the area who may have information on a man who was spotted in the area trying to steal diesel from a pump. He is described as white, of muscular build with short, dark brown hair and aged between 20 and 30 years old. He was wearing a checked shirt.

Please call Durham Constabulary on 0845-6060 365 if you have any information.

The appeal comes after Rosemary Dove collapsed and died after confronting fuel thieves at her home in Co Durham.

To comment on this article, use the comment box below, or email us at clonews@ipcmedia.com. Read more about the countryside.