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Three attempted horse thefts have been reported in the West Berkshire/South Oxfordshire area in the past few days. The first two occurred in Chieveley, and the third in Compton, Berkshire, on Tuesday last week.

PC Andy Buckingham, of West Berkshire Police, says that as yet the police have no specific intelligence as to who committed the crimes, which may be linked to recent trailer thefts and a number of attacks on remote rural farm buildings in the area.

“This type of crime tends to come in spates, and the recent wave started about ten days ago,” explains PC Buckingham. “The crimes occurred between 2 and 4 am on each occasion, using vehicles with offroading capability that were driven along routes not known to the public.”

The criminals’ knowledge of the lie of the land suggests access to insider information, and police believe there may be a link to illegal hare coursing.

“It would be possible for people to ‘recce’ the land when out hare-coursing, and use that information to commit crimes at a later time,” says PC Buckingham. “We are running an operation to clamp down on illegal hare-coursing between September and March, and are hoping for a beneficial knock-on effect on other rural crime in the region.”

Police are uncertain whether there is a link between the horse thefts and recent knife attacks on horses in the area. Horses were injured in three separate attacks in Wantage, Oxfordshire and Lambourn, Berkshire.

“The only real link so far is the geography,” says PC Buckingham. “These are the first reported stabbings in Oxfordshire this year.”

PC Bentham advises horse owners to remain vigilant and report any suspicious persons or vehicles to the police. However, he warns that people should never compromise their personal safety. “If people see suspicious vehicle activity, they should never confront the driver, but try to get the vehicle details and contact police immediately.” He advises that in order to minimise risk, gates should be padlocked and vehicles locked and clamped.”

Anyone with information regarding these crimes should contact PC Andy Buckingham (tel: 07800 702323) or email: andrew.buckingham@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk