Police are investigating incidents of burglary and animal cruelty at the Hopefields Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood after items went missing and animals were allegedly abused.

The sanctuary's Facebook page put out a message appealing for information on a group of people who have been captured on CCTV entering the premises with their hoods up.

The group also posted another photo, which is a screenshot of a Snapchat image, showing somebody grabbing a goat by one of their horns. It is believed the children forced the goat to touch an electric fence.

In the Facebook post, which has been shared more than 15,000 times since it went online on Saturday, it says: "It is with a heavy heart that we report to you that over the last 2 months Hopefield Animal Sanctuary has been the victim of 3 acts of trespassing, theft and worst of all animal abuse.

"On the 1st of August, three youths entered the sanctuary out of hours and took snapchat photos of themselves pulling our innocent goat, Nathan onto an electric fence and tormenting him.

"They continued on to then push one of our beautiful pigs over and traumatized them.

"Most recently this week we came in and our beautiful tearoom had been vandalised and items stolen.

"We are asking our community for help in this official public appeal for information. At times as vulnerable as this in the world we need to look after each other and come together more than ever to protect our fellow beings from evil."

Police are now investigating the series of incidents and are working with the RSPCA.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "We are conducting an investigation following a burglary which took place between 10.30pm on Thursday, October 5, and Friday, October 6 at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary.

"A number of items were stolen and a messy search conducted of the sanctuary’s tearooms.

"We are keeping the victim up to speed with the investigation’s progress, and the various lines of enquiry being pursued. As part of this, we will be reviewing CCTV footage of the night of the burglary. 

"Our enquiries continue, as does an investigation into acts of cruelty against animals at the centre, which is being led by the RSPCA. 

"We appeal for anyone who may have information which could aid the investigation, to make contact with Pc Rob Anderson at Grays and Brentwood Local Policing Team on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 111 555."

A fundraising page has been set up here