MALICIOUS metal thieves have caused major damage to one of Solihull's best-loved landmarks.
Passers-by were horrified to notice that the tail and part of the leg had been hacked off the Prancing Horse and Man sculpture, which stands in the town centre's Malvern Park.
The incident, which was reported to police at around 6pm on Friday, is being investigated by officers and Solihull Council.
Currently its unclear how much it will cost to repair the Victorian piece, which has been the unofficial mascot of the Solihull News for many years.
It is thought that the thieves used power-tools to remove the fore leg and tail from the bronze monument.
Solihull MP Lorely Burt said: "I'm just absolutely appalled, I would like to cut the tails off whoever has done this.
"We are currently discussing legislation in Parliament to clamp down on this type of offence and I hope whoever is responsible faces the full weight of the law."
Councillor Joe Tildesley (Con, St Alphege), a former policeman, said that he was furious when he heard the news:
"I just completely despair. Why would someone do something so mindless to a valuable piece of art?
"They must have come armed with some fairly heavy-duty tools and perhaps they were disturbed before they could do any more damage.
"I think when the people of Solihull hear about this they will be completely shocked. I would be bitterly disappointed if it was someone from the borough."
The sculpture, which takes pride of place in Malvern Park Avenue, has a history stretching back more than a century.
It was created in 1874 by the Victorian, Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, and depicts a shire horse being led into the sea.
Bought at auction by Oliver Bird, of Birds Custard fame, it was donated to the borough in 1944.
Its previous home was at Tudor Grange, before it was moved to Malvern Park in 1953 - the year of the Queen's Coronation.
Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner of Solihull Police urged anyone with information to do the right thing and call the non-emergency 101 number.