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A distraught family from West Sussex are appealing for help to find their miniature Shetland pony, Charlie, who was stolen from his field on the A264 in Copthorne in broad daylight, last Monday (29 September).

Charlie is a seven-year-old skewbald pony with four white socks and measures just 32in. His owner Ann Hodgetts describes him as “extremely friendly.”

“We have owned Charlie for six years and he is regularly ridden by my five-year-old granddaughter Scarlet, who is absolutely devastated by his disappearance,” Ann told HHO.

The theft took place at around 3pm and a white transit-type van was seen parked outside the field gate immediately before the pony disappeared. The field is situated opposite the family’s home.

“A number of passers-by saw the van parked up alongside the gate,” explains Ann. “We believe it may have had blue lettering set on a curve on the side, possibly advertising UPVC windows.

“Two men were seen leading Charlie across the field towards the gate, which was always kept padlocked. We think they lifted the gate off its hinges before leading him out and into the van.”

Ann is hopeful that Charlie’s unusual appearance may help members of the public to recognise him.

“Because he is regularly ridden he has been clipped out all over his body but his legs are still really hairy – he looks like he’s wearing leg warmers. Obviously at this time of year his coat is growing very fast so the effect of the clip is only likely to last a few weeks. After that he will return to being hairy all over.”

Other distinguishing features include Charlie’s unusual coloured teeth. “He has got brown teeth, which I think is quite unusual; not just normal discolouration but actually brown,” she says.

Ann was enjoying a riding holiday in Spain when Charlie disappeared and returned home as soon as she heard about the theft.

“I flew home as quickly as I could when I heard. We have been scouring the local area for him and have had some possible leads but so far they have come to nothing. I am clinging to the hope that someone somewhere will recognise him and get in touch.”

Anyone with information can contact Ann (tel: 01342 712202 or 07780 967842) or PC Hill at East Grinstead Police Station (tel: 0845 6070999)