A FARMER has hit out at vandals who have caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to her hay bales.

Ellie Stokeld had just taken delivery of nearly 60 bales of hay at her farm near Nunthorpe last weekend and was waiting to move them when the vandals cut through a wire fence before rolling almost half of them down a hill before cutting the netting that kept the hay in place.

The award-winning sheep breeder, who works alongside Cleveland Police, the Rural Crime the Regional Equine Group and the Countryside Alliance to reduce the level of crime in the area has been left furious by the attack.

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She said: “We had 58 round bales of hay in our field waiting to be brought in and each bale is worth £30. Some little thugs went to the field, obviously prepared, and rolled 26 of them to the top on an incline, which would have taken at least two of them.

“Once they got them there, they cut the netting, which held the bales together, and rolled the bales down the incline and scattered the hay. This ruined the hay as the ground was wet.

“We were alerted at 6.45 on Sunday morning by a neighbour and the mess was horrendous. Apart from that they had destroyed the fence in three places.”

Last month, Mrs Stokeld praised the work of Inspector Dan Maddison, organiser and rural crime lead for Cleveland Police, after he rebuilt relations with farmers and residents after they felt their needs and concerns were being neglected.

She added: “The Police were really helpful when they came out to see me, so hopefully they will catch whoever was responsible for this vandalism. It is incredibly annoying that people think they can get away with sort of behaviour.”

The dedicated police team is starting to make inroads into the causes of crime and is looking at innovative ways of connecting communities and individuals to pass on vital information.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We have visited the farm and have supported the victim by providing crime prevention advice. High visibility patrols are being carried out and rural crime operations will take place in the area in the near future.”

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101.

People wanting to become involved in tackling rural crime should call Insp Maddison on 01642-303187.