“DESPICABLE” thieves stole solar lights put in a park to protect nesting swans.

Residents had placed the two solar lights near the lake in Promenade Park in Maldon to act as fox deterrents.

The lights were taken from the park between 8.30pm and 9.30pm last Tuesday.

Concerned residents installed the lights after a series of attacks on the swans and their cygnets in recent years.

In 2014 a female swan was injured and lost all her cygnets to foxes.

A year later, despite losing the use of her wing and leg, she managed to rear cygnets in 2015, but died last year after further attacks by foxes.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said: “We are so privileged to be able to watch the nesting and rearing of these magnificent birds at such close quarters at the Prom.

“It is despicable that someone could steal these lights, when any method that could help protect the swans should be used.”

The lights were taken from either side of the swan nest last Tuesday.

The incident has been reported to Maldon District Council.

Richard Holmes, director for community services, said: “The council has investigated the matter including checking the site and looking at CCTV recordings, but regrettably those responsible for removing the lights have not been identified.

“We cannot advise leaving such lights or other personal possessions in the park overnight.

“To assist the council in deterring opportunistic scavenging by wildlife, including rats and foxes we ask visitors to the park not to leave scraps of food however well-intentioned.”

Call 01621 852511 or 07585077437 with info.