STAFF at an animal centre near Ringwood have been left saddened after more than £10,000 worth of items were stolen during an overnight raid.

The team at RSPCA Ashley Heath say they were "shocked" to discover their maintenance garage was broken into between the hours of 11.30pm on Sunday and 2am the following morning.

A Kubota tractor and topper valued at £8,500 and other maintenance items totalling around £1,800 were taken.

Gaynor Cannings, the deputy centre manager at RSPCA Ashley Heath, said: “It’s saddening that someone would do this to a charity, and even more saddening that this will cost us money which would have been far better spent on the animals that come into our care through no fault of their own.

“It feels like whoever stole the tractor was stealing from the animals, and stealing from everyone who has kindly donated to us to help the animals in our care.

“It must have been a struggle for whoever did this to get the tractor out, as the door to the garage had been blocked with a van. They then used our golf buggy to move the items then abandoned it tipped over."

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: "Enquiries into the incident are ongoing. No arrests have been made at this stage."

The centre, which rehabilitates and rehomes animals rescued by the RSPCA’s inspectors from cruelty and neglect, are appealing to people who may know what happened, or who stole the tractor to contact Dorset Police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55190173726.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.