A set of bespoke wooden gates costing £3,000 have been stolen from the entrance to playing fields in South Harting.

The incident late on Easter Sunday (March 31) is the second of its kind in a decade at the site, with thieves cutting through metal bolts to remove the oak gates.

They were only installed seven months ago but the parish council is unlikely to order replacements because of the cost and the likelihood of a repeat.

“The company that installed the new gates told us there had been a spate of thefts, as people are going round stealing this type of gate, and especially tall ones,” said Paul Bramfitt of the South Harting playing fields committee.

“The trouble is the playing fields in South Harting are quite a way out. Someone clocked the van leaving, but when they ran the number through it came up as a motorbike, so whoever is stealing them knows what they’re doing.

“We’ve put up a metal field gate in the meantime, which isn’t quite so nice, but I don’t think we’ll get another wooden set because it’s just not worth replacing them.

“They cost around £3,000, and that’s without the posts, and I think if we do replace them it’s only going to happen again.”

Villagers – who have called the theft “disappointing” and “terrible” – have been asked to keep an eye out for advertisements online in the hope they may be recovered.

Witnesses or anyone with information should call West Sussex Police on 101 quoting 47240060997.