A HORSE was killed on Oxford Ring Road during a crimewave in one city suburb.

Burglars behind the damage tore open sheds at Marston Burial Ground before making their way across Elsfield Road and cutting fences around a field containing three horses.

The vandals sliced the fence in two places – once on the cemetery side and one on the Northern Bypass side which is how one of the horses managed to escape and was reportedly hit by a vehicle.

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It is thought the burglars’ weapon of choice is an angle grinder – which Old Marston Parish Council said they used to destroy the lock to its graveyard garage.

Luckily, the bungling criminals left empty-handed because the shed was full of litter pickers ready for the OxClean litter pick on Saturday.

Oxford Mail:

This is how Tim Cann, clerk to the parish council, found out about the burglary – the second at the burial ground in 18 months.

He said: “We noticed on Friday because the only thing that we actually stored in the sheds were the OxClean litter pickers.

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“A similar thing happened 18 months ago – we had £5,000 worth of machinery stolen and at the time we decided not to replace it.

“They must have just seen the padlocks and tried their luck.”

Oxford Mail:

The two remaining horses at the field yesterday.

When he found out, Mr Cann spoke with a neighbour, Mark Baker, who revealed he also had his shed broken into on the same night.

His security lights were also smashed – the only lights which would have shown the faces of the gang on his CCTV cameras.

Mr Baker said: “They didn’t actually manage to steal from me, I had my mower chained down so much they couldn’t remove it.

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“But now I keep thinking – they know it's there and so they might come back and try again.”

He explained that he chats with the lady who owns the horses over the road, and said she had now made a secure enclosure inside the field to keep the surviving two horses safe.

Debbie Dance, director of Oxford Preservation Trust which owns the field, confirmed that the fence has been cut on purpose and that a horse has been killed.

Oxford Mail:

The horse paddock between Elsfield Road, Marston, and the Oxford Ring Road (northern bypass). Just south of Elsfield Road is the Marston Burial Ground. Picture: Google Maps

She added: “It was definitely cut. We have a very nice man who fixed the fence for us at the weekend, he lives in Marston, and he said it had definitely been vandalised.

“We’ve helped the tenant and our thoughts are with her. We are all pretty upset about it, but what can you do? You can’t man the land.”

In April last year, Thames Valley Police introduced new high-tech gear in an operation to combat rural crime.

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Bryan Haynes, who owns the farm just behind the field which was broken into, said it was not a one-off incident.

He said: “It’s happening all over – my daughter has a house in the village, and they’ve broken into her shed last week. It's the same people, they are going around.”

He explained that it was he who called the estate agents who rent out the field for the preservation trust – Savills – to let them know that the horses had got out.

Oxford Mail:

In a tweet to its roughly 850 followers, the parish council wrote: “There was a break in at our shed and a neighbour's shed on Friday.

"The same people also allowed three horses to escape from a nearby field. Sadly, one was hurt and killed by a vehicle on the bypass.”

Both South-Central Ambulance Service and the RSPCA said they could find no record of being called about the horse being killed.

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Oxfordshire County Council, the public body in charge of the county’s roads, said it could not confirm any road closures or incidents without police confirmation.

Thames Valley Police said it was not in its policy to comment on road traffic collisions, even in connection with a spate of burglaries – but the force did say it was investigating the shed burglaries at the graveyard and the home next door.