A FAMILY has been left heartbroken after vile crooks stole their favourite pet Shetland ponies from a field.

Witnesses reported seeing a white van drive onto a field near London Road, Pitsea and disturb the horses.

The angry owners are offering a £1,000 reward for any information leading to conviction.

The animals were then reported as stolen soon after, when the owners next visited the site.

Sammy Hogg, 37, from Wickford helps the owner care for the animals is appealing for information about the incident.

She said: “The horses have been in the field for years.

“The neighbour heard the horses calling out for the ones that were taken.

“One of the horses is really suffering and missing the two that have been taken.

“One of them is a stallion and the other is a mare and they are about three years old.

“My friend is devastated about the horses because they are his life. He has kept and bred them for years.

“You cannot do too much with them and they are just like big family pets.

“The family have been through a lot and they are so upset, the children are especially upset about it.

“The horses are spoilt but also cared for so well. The owners really look after the animals.”

Mrs Hogg said the small horses have been microchipped and hopes the animals are found soon when the thieves realised the pets are too hot to handle.

She added: “It’s not like the family to show emotion but I can see the impact this has had on them all. I think people do not realise what they are taking when they do this.

“It’s really sad. I hope they will be found left somewhere soon.”

She said she worked with the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society for 11 years and has seen many cases with horses taken.

Anyone with information about the stolen horses call Essex Police on 101.