POLICE chiefs have warned it is only a matter of time before loose horses on roads cause a tragic accident.
Hartlepool Police has warned owners that animals will be seized if they do not keep them secure.
It comes after an incident in Seaton Lane, in Seaton Carew, at 4pm on Sunday, when three horses broke loose from nearby fields on to the road.
Officers say it is the latest in a series of similar incidents involving the animals roaming on to the highway and putting other road users at risk.
Inspector Mick Brown, of Hartlepool Police, said: “We are getting frequent calls now regarding horses that are getting loose predominantly in the south of Hartlepool.
“We are spending a substantial amount of time tracking down in the first instance these horses, then trying to look the owners up.
“It’s a matter of time before a real serious injury occurs to members of the public and road users.
“It’s not a case of if, it’s when.
“The owners know who they are and we will take steps to seize these animals if these incidents continue.”
Insp Brown is calling for owners of loose horses to be more responsible and to be aware of the “very real and present danger to other road users”.
He said: “In essence, they are liable for the danger that comes from their land legally.
“I want these people to recognise their duty and check that these animals are properly secured before we have a tragic accident on our hands.”
He said owners need to work in partnership with police before a serious accident happens.
Horse owners can contact their local neighbourhood policing teams for advice on (01642) 326326 or Hartlepool Borough Council on (01429) 266522.