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Equine crime in Gloucestershire has dropped dramatically since the start of a year long police campaign in the county’s schools.

After six months, the Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Equine Crime Project has recorded a 40 per cent reduction in total equine-related thefts and a 75 per cent drop in items stolen, compared with figures in the first half of 2007.

Police have targeted communities by going into local schools to emphasise the crime-busting benefits of marking tack using an indelible forensic fluid — SmartWater — and by micro-chipping horses.

SmartWater contains microscopic particles that make up a unique property identification code which transfer to the thief linking them directly to a crime.

It is virtually impossible to remove and thieves cannot risk handling goods sprayed with the fluid.

One of the policemen leading the campaign, PC Darren Peters, said the project was a reaction to rising equine crime in the county between 2006 and 2007, but police seem to have stemmed the rise in crime.

“During this period [2006/07] the value of horses and equipment being stolen rose from £38,000 to £91,000.” he said.

“Now the county-wide results confirm that criminals are being forced to target lower value horses and saddlery. We are determined to keep up the good work.”

The first equine crime prevention day at Lakers School in Coleford in May, saw 16 horses micro-chipped by a local vet and a number of saddles marked with SmartWater.

The project is working closely with the Pony Club, British Horse Society (BHS) and Horsewatch.

Head of welfare at the BHS, Lee Hackett, fully endorsed the work of Gloucestershire Constabulary.

He said: “Microchipping is always good and any system that reduces the theft of tack and prevents equine crime receives our full support.”