Figures supplied by NFU Mutual show that rural crime cost an estimated £44.5 million during 2017. Farms and outbuildings are particularly vulnerable as the clocks go back and the evenings get darker and longer, providing cover for thieves to work under — are you sure your tack is safe? What can and should you be doing to protect it?

1. Keep tack in a secure, locked tackroom

The MLA advises rural businesses to consult an MLA-approved locksmith, who will be able to carry out a security assessment on property and recommend suitable locks and fittings, as well as providing input from a safety point of view. A local, professional locksmith may also be able to perform a complete security assessment of stable yard and tackroom free of charge.

2. Don’t be tempted to economise by buying cheap locks

It is worth investing in high quality locks, chains and padlocks, making sure that you use products that have been approved by an independent product testing house — such as Sold Secure — to provide peace of mind (visit www.soldsecure.com to check for their lists of approved products). The MLA advises using good quality padlocks with heavy duty hasp and staple on barn and outbuilding doors, fitted directly to the door, with two equally spaced locks from top to bottom.

3. Perform regular and thorough maintenance security checks

Look for rusted locks, chains, hasps and staples, cracked panes of glass and rotten frames and sills, says the MLA — these are all features that opportunistic thieves look out for, so get them replaced or fixed as soon as possible.

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4. Put bars on your tackroom window

The HorseWatch Alliance recommends putting bars on tackroom windows, as these are a common point of entry.

5. Control access to your yard

Ensure gates and doors are kept securely locked and only approved personnel have keys. Use padlocks rather than chains, as chains can easily be cut with boltcutters.

6. Keep an eye out for strangers on your yard

The HorseWatch Alliance suggests politely asking people you don’t recognise on the yard if you can help them, or who they are looking for. If unhappy with their answer, take note of their description and vehicle type/colour/registration.

7. Keep an inventory

Keep a comprehensive, up-to-date inventory of all your tack, including colour and make and any security markings, with photographs.

8. Invest in a tack locker

Consider investing in a tack locker, such as TackGuard from Equine Security which holds up to four saddles and is bolted to the floor.

9. Get your tack marked

The Metropolitan Police advises that marked tack is a good deterrent for thieves. Their advice is to engrave/punch your postcode (or that of your yard) followed by the number of the premises onto your saddle (under the flap) and bridle. You can buy inexpensive kit to do this yourself from DIY stores, or you’ll often find a tack marking service offered at local shows. Your local HorseWatch scheme may also be able to mark it for you — visit www.ukhorsewatch.org.uk.

10. Consider CCTV

Install CCTV, sensory lighting and security systems, recommends the MLA. Although expensive, these act as effective deterrents.

11. Be vigilant at shows

If attending a show, be vigilant about your tack. Ensure it’s marked, and when you are not using it, lock it into your car or lorry.

12. Insure your tack

Some horse insurance policies also cover tack theft, as do some home insurance policies. It’s up to you to ensure you are covered.

For more information about the MLA visit: www.locksmiths.co.uk

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