Police warn ‘mark your tack if you want it back’

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Police are emphasising the need to make sure horses and equipment are properly marked to help assist the return of stolen property.

The warning comes after officers in Bedfordshire recovered four trailers and 14 saddles in a swoop on open land in Pepperstock.

Detectives were able to return three of the trailers to their owner using serial numbers — the fourth is in poor condition so it is not likely to be traceable and will probably be scrapped.

But none of the saddles were security marked but police were able to cross-reference their descriptions against a crime management systems property list to look for possible matches — a time consuming activity.

Three possible owners were found and invited to Dunstable Police Station, where the goods were being held.

Two were able to able to identify the property by offering visual descriptions – one because they recognised chew marks left by a dog on a saddles.

Bedfordshire Police ringmaster systems administrator Sarah Stevens said: “Ultimately, we had to rely on the honesty of the visitors and all 14 saddles were returned.

“Had the saddles been security marked this process would have been much more straight forward and many hours of police work saved.

“It would also have saved the time and upset of the third member of the public who travelled to Dunstable Station to leave empty handed.”

She added: “Marked property is often more difficult to sell on and so less attractive to the offender.”

There was not enough evidence in this case to bring any charges.

Susan Swann of South Bedfordshire HorseWatch said: “Mark it or lose it — no thief wants to have property found on them that can be proven to be stolen.

“But if any property is recovered by police, if it cannot be proven to be stolen it may have to be burnt or worse given back to the suspected party and no charges made.”