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Horse owners are urged to be on their guard, after the cost of equine crime has increased by almost 50% in a year.

The cost of equine related thefts have risen by 45% since 2012 and totalled more than £1.9m in 2013, according to rural insurers NFU Mutual.

The number of thefts is up 16%. Trailers and horsebox thefts accounted for 69% of all equine theft claims, and horse tack and equipment for 19%.

The north-east and south-west were the worst affected areas in the recent crime survey — results of which were released on 11 August — which was completed by 300 NFU agencies in rural areas.

“In 2012 thieves mainly focused their attention on horse and livestock trailers and electric fencing equipment,” said Victoria Walton of NFU. “However, in the past year, theft of tack and equipment has risen dramatically, overtaking electric fencing equipment.”

Farms and livery yards are a favourite hunting ground for thieves because they are often unattended at night.

“With many horse owners and farmers continuing to feel the financial pinch, the theft of essential items such as tack, fencing, trailers and feed is a further blow to their pockets, particularly if the items are uninsured,” Ms Walton added.

Earlier this year H&H reported on a spate of high profile equestrian break-ins — including at Olympic eventer Vittoria Panizzon’s yard —showing that thieves are increasingly aiming for large hauls.

Vittoria lost thousands of pounds worth of tack in the raid.

“We have seen a number of large tack theft claims up to £30,000 recently,” said NFU’s Nicki Whitaker. “The last time we saw large claims like this was in 2011.”

Owners are urged to be vigilant and protect their belongings.

“The onus is on horse owners to act, to prevent as much as possible — by marking equipiment — but also to report it to the police if things are stolen,” said David Collings from Hampshire Horse Watch.

This news story was first published in H&H magazine on 4 September 2014