Stolen paint was chucked over a memorial to employees of a sweet company who died in the two world wars.
Volunteers at Rowntree Park in York say their store was broken into on Monday evening and a wheelbarrow and paint were taken.
A grade II listed memorial which commemorates Rowntree Cocoa Works’ employees killed or injured in the First and Second World Wars was vandalised.
A spokesman for the Friends of Rowntree Park group said: ‘There is a fair amount of mess and destruction for no real reason other than “a bit of a laugh”.’
The spokesman said that one person had said that they’d seen youths on nearby Bishopthorpe Road with a wheelbarrow between 8.30pm and 9pm.
The thieves also stole bird feeders and poles from the gardens.
The lychgate – also known as the dovecote – houses plaques linked to WW1 and WW2.
City of York Council is now working with members of the Friends of Rowntree Park to remove the paint from the war memorial.
The Friends of Rowntree Park, which is a registered charity, runs gardening sessions and mental health and well-being programmes at the park.
The park was donated to the people of York by the Rowntree family in 1921.
Historic England listings say the lychgate and dovecote containing the war memorial plaques were installed in 1921 and are likely to have been designed by Frederick Rowntree or W Swain for Rowntree & Co Ltd and presented to the City of York as part of the memorial Rowntree Park.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: ‘It’s such a disappointment to see our parks and opens spaces and those who work and volunteer to tend them, treated with such disrespect.
‘The fact that someone has chosen to break into the storage facility and take tools and paint and use them to graffiti the park, which is there for their benefit, beggars belief.
‘This incident is believed to have taken place at some point overnight on Monday 24 May 2021. Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area of Rowntree Park, or who may have captured CCTV or doorbell is asked to contact 101.’
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