THIEVES have been accused of “robbing Blackpool of its heritage” after three historic statues were snatched from Stanley Park.
Raiders struck at The Italian Gardens in the Blackpool park on Sunday night and stole three of the lead based figures which have stood in place since 1926.
The statues – including a woman holding a basket – vanished during the night, just months after £11,000 was spent fixing the women’s head and arm back into place.
And their disappearance has caused outrage and upset across the resort according to Elaine Smith, chairman of the Blackpool Civic Trust and Friends of Stanley Park group. She said: “I was knocked sick to hear our statues have been stolen.
“This is not just a theft of Stanley Park, these people have stolen part of Blackpool history’s from everybody in the town.
“The statues have been there since the park was built and stood in rain and shine watching over the Italian Gardens all these years.
“To think someone can simply bundle them into a van without a care for their worth to the town is sickening.”
The statues, which are around four feet tall, were placed on plinths around the gardens.
Rangers who work in the park noticed they were missing shortly after 6.30am on Monday morning.
Police were called immediately and an investigation has been launched to discover exactly how they heavy structures were removed from the park. Wardens also set to work removing the fourth statue on Monday afternoon in case the thieves returned. Mrs Smith added: “This was clearly a professional job and planned with precision.
“Moving the statue to be repaired was very difficult and required specialist equipment so they obviously knew what they were doing.
“These statues were insured after they were damaged, but you cannot replace all those years of history.”
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member with responsibility for parks at Blackpool Council said: “I was in the Italian Gardens on Friday admiring how nice the area looked so I’m horrified this has happened.
“The statues were there for everyone to enjoy and whoever stole them should be ashamed of themselves. “We will have to consider if it is appropriate to replace them in the future.”