OFF-ROAD bikers are causing havoc by tearing through woods illegally, frightening horses and people.

The problem has got so bad in the area around Hockley Woods police are now threatening to take away, and crush, any bikes they get hold of.

It comes after several near-misses involving horses, dogs, and even walkers who want to use the woods in peace.

Loretta Bocquet, 43, from Rochford, said she had experienced the problem first-hand when the bikes got near her group of riders.

She said: “My daughter’s boyfriend went out to wave his arms to to stop them, and they just drove at him. He had to jump out of the way.

“These are irresponsible people, driving illegally and when you ask them to stop, they are turning and heading straight for the horses and pedestrians.

“They obviously think it’s great fun, but someone’s going to get seriously hurt.”

The problem is particularly bad around the perimeter, which passes Grove Woods and Bull Lane, Rayleigh and Gusted Hall Lane, Hockley Another horse rider, who would not be named, added: “I heard them on Saturday, so I avoided the woods that day.

“It’s really scary and a lot of riders are avoiding the woods because they know these people will be there.”

She said she had also heard of cases where dogs and children had nearly been run over.

It is believed one of the bikes is a Suzuki and the other is a Honda, which have also been spotted in the Hullbridge Lane area.

The riders appear to be teenagers, but have goggles covering their faces.

The law states off-road bikes can only be used with the permission of the landowner.

Police are now issuing section 59 notices to anyone caught riding motorbikes illegally.

This means if either the same person, or the same bike, is spotted causing problems more than once, then the vehicle can be crushed.

These notices have already been issued to three different people in the woods off Cherry Orchard Way, Rochford.

Rayleigh Insp Chris Higgins said: “If people are using the bikes lawfully, in an area they are allowed to, that’s fine.

“It’s when people use them in an area where they are not supposed to, that we get calls.

“The public need to let us know if these things are happening.”

Anyone who wants to report an issue can call police on 101.