Residents' fury after theft of Ryhope pit pony statue
Residents have reacted with anger after a distinctive statue welcoming visitors to their village was stolen overnight.
The Ryhope pit pony statue, close to St Benedict’s hospice in Stockton Road, is one of two at either end of the village designed to reflect the area’s’ mining heritage.
It was stolen sometime overnight on Thursday, September 30, to Friday, October 1.
Thieves have cut through the statue’s legs, leaving just its hooves behind on top of its stone plinth.
Village residents have shared their disgust at the theft on social media, with suggestions of a crowd-funded replacement being bought.
Independent ward councillor Coun Steven Bewick said he had been notified of the theft on Friday: “It must have happened during the night when nobody was around,” he said.
“It looks as though somebody has taken an angle grinder or steel cutters to it and stolen it for scrap, presumably,” he said.
"I think it is a disgrace. The statues have been put in place top remind people of the pits and the heritage of Ryhope Colliery. For somebody to come along and cause this damage hurts everybody from the Ryhope community.
Coun Bewick fears the statue may already have been destroyed if it has been stolen for scrap: “I don’t think anyone is going to be keeping it in their garden – it is too recognisable,” he said.
"If it is taken to any reputable scrap merchant, they will recognise it too – it may have been taken apart already.”
Labour ward member Coun Michael Essl urged anyone who knew about the theft to contact the police: “This is a disgraceful attack on the heritage of the people of Ryhope Colliery,” he said.
"I would urge anyone who has any information to contact the police immediately.”
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 1am on Friday, October 1, we received a report of that the horse statue from the ‘Ryhope’ sign on the A1018 had been stolen.
“Enquiries are ongoing to trace those responsible.
"Anyone with information is asked to contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101 quoting log NP-20211001-0031.”