POLICE are investigating after 16 signs were stolen from a forest.

Police say the byelaw signs were "systematically removed" in Ashdown Forest ,last weekend, but it is not yet clear why they were targeted by thieves.

The signs were among 50 placed in the forest by volunteers using funding secured from a grant.

PC Giancarlo Leone said: "The byelaws have been put in place to protect the unique habitats that the forest provides as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest and as part of a larger Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and to ensure the safety of any visitors taking advantage of its world famous beauty and space.

"A number of these signs have been systematically removed from their posts for reasons unknown and we’re appealing for the public to help us identify who is responsible before any other signs are removed."

Kirsty Dirs, clerk to the board of conservators of Ashdown Forest, said: "Ashdown Forest is now predominantly self-financed and the new signs were redesigned and printed with generous donations from local parishes and community groups.

The Argus:

"It’s incredibly disappointing to see a number of these signs taken within days of them being installed.

"We ask anyone with any information to please get in touch with police."

Anyone who has any information on the thefts is encouraged to contact police online or by calling 101 quoting serial 689 of 09/11.

Alternatively, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.