Thieves target riding school

  • St Leonard’s Riding School in Toton suffered its second major tack theft of the year last Saturday, leaving the owners to wonder what more they can do to improve the security of their yard.

    The latest break-in took place at around 2.45am on Saturday morning. The riding school was not the only place the thieves attempted to rob, as evidence of their attempts on other properties was found the following day.

    “We had a new tack room installed following the last theft,” says yard owner Sally Carnelly, “but they bolt clipped the locks. They were very professional.

    “They didn’t even come in through the front gate, but through the pony gate which you are not meant to drive cars through. They were in and out in five minutes.”

    The yard was previously broken into in February, but Sally thinks the two incidents are unconnected.

    “The first lot were just kids, ” she explains. “They took about sixteen saddles, but were spotted changing cars, and fled leaving eight behind, which we recovered. They clearly weren’t in the same league as last week’s thieves.”

    St Leonard’s is particularly vulnerable, as the owners are not permitted to sleep on the premises, which encourages thieves if they know the area. This also means they are unable to get insurance for their belongings.

    “We have considered CCTV, but it is very expensive and people just tend to bash it in, according to security experts we have spoken to,” continues Sally.

    “We have re-enforced the bars on the doors, and are hoping for the best, but if it happens again, I think we’ll just have to give up.”

    The spate of robberies in the area included thieves attempting to steal a horse lorry near St Leonard’s on the same night. Though unsuccessful, it proves it is not only tack that is in danger.

    Neither the thieves in February, nor those who robbed the yard on Saturday morning have been traced, and it is unlikely, unless somebody comes forward with other information, that they will be.

    “We are dealing with very professional thieves here. I would say to everybody that the more deterrents there are in your yard the better and if possible people need to sleep as close as they can to the yard,” says Sally.

    “I am also arranging to have all the new saddles stamped right in the centre, so the marks can’t be hidden,” she added.

    Tack theft is a risk to all yards, and as incidents throughout the country become more frequent, owners are being encouraged to be extra vigilant and to take their tack home with them whenever possible.