HEARTLESS criminals have vandalised vital equipment at a Hampshire lake, amid an explosion in potentially-deadly algae levels.

Illness-inducing blue green algae (BGA) levels have spiked at Testwood Lakes, according to experts.

It comes after special probes were ripped out of Testwood lakes during soaring temperatures brought about by the recent summer heatwave.

Now environment experts and police bosses have issued a grave warning about the ‘killer’ algae - which can cause dizziness, nausea and even kidney and liver problems.

Experts warn it can also be fatal to dogs and Totton Police wrote on social media: “The water at Testwood Lakes can kill.”

A spokesperson for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: “We were recently informed that BGA counts in Testwood Lakes had increased dramatically and stood at a level that could pose a long term threat to human health if ingested.

“During warm dry weather such as that we’ve been having over the past few months can lead to a bloom in BGA.”

“We immediately erected warning signs and increased patrols to discourage people from swimming and from allowing dogs into the lakes and we will remove warning signs on site and update our website when we are confident that the water is safe again.”

The warning comes after CCTV footage shows a group of young people removing the algae probes on the 20th of June.

The 4th New Forest north scouts installed the £2000 probes last year to ensure the water at the pontoon would be safe for them to go in.

Since the equipment has been removed, the levels of BGA have risen drastically from 0 to 10,000 blooms.

Scout Leader, Marcus Sly said: “We have never experienced this level of vandalism at the lake before and the replacement of the transducers will be at the scouts expense.

“The safety threshold for BGA is 20 blooms so 10,000 is ridiculous – it truly shows how effective the probes were in ensuring the BGA levels were safe.”

Mr Sly also said: “When our adult volunteers speak to people who are not respecting the lakes or abiding by the rules on the signs they frequently receive a lot of abuse.

“The police are going to advise us on a better CCTV system we should invest in in case anything like this happens in the future.

“It’s such a shame, as the money we will have to spend on new probes should be going towards the upkeep of the pontoon house.”

A Hampshire Constabulary spokeswoman said police had no record of the incident.