Top tips for better security

  • Install a burglar alarm. Aside from the traditional loud ring, there are now alarms available which can let you know by phone call, text message or email that the alarm has been activated. Some will even call your local police station.

    Make sure that there are at least two people, including yourself, who know the pin code or hold a key to your alarm. You will draw attention to the fact the yard is unattended if the alarm is ringing for a long period.

    Install security lights. These come in a wide variety and are relatively easy to install.

    Remember that burglars love door locks they can “pop” quietly, rather than breaking a door down and risking being heard. A professional locksmith or lock company will advise you on the best sort of lock to use, taking into consideration the type of door you wish to secure. They will also install locks for you.

    If you are planning to fit your own lock, make sure you get the most effective for your budget. If you have a weak, old or unsuitable door, think about replacing it. All the locks in the world will not help if your door has been rotting away for the past 20yr.

    Choose your padlock carefully. If you have an inexpensive padlock it is likely that a burglar will either be able to force it open or cut through the shackle. Close-shackled padlocks make it more difficult to get a good enough grip with a bolt cutter to break the lock. There are padlocks available that are made from reinforced materials that resist cutting or sawing.

    If you go for a padlock with a combination code, make sure that someone jiggling the lock around cannot easily detect the code. Don’t use obvious codes that a thief could guess, such as your birth date.

    Use chains to secure moveable objects such as tack, trailers and yard equipment. Reinforced ones are available but will be more expensive.

    Don’t forget to protect your trailer and lorry. Wheel clamps are useful and some are even insurance-approved; fitting an alarm will help alert anybody on or near the lorry that a theft is possibly in progress; coupling locks will prevent trailers from being hitched, though some thieves will use chains to tow trailers, and immobilisers or battery isolators will make it difficult to start an engine.

    Closed circuit television can help police identify any intruders on your property and, if the suspect is caught, may be used as evidence at a trial. Burglars know this; so put up warning signs alerting people to the fact you have CCTV installed.

    Labelling items with security pens can deter a would-be thief. You can label tack, rugs, carriages, yard tools, feeds bins and so on with indelible or ultra-violet marker pens. Larger items such as trailers and horseboxes will benefit from being labelled on their roofs, especially if a police helicopter spots the vehicle. Your home postcode is the most common label to use.

    As an extra deterrent, put up a warning sign to say that your property is security labelled.

    Freeze-marking is a common way of security marking your horse. But if you buy a horse with a freeze-mark, make sure that your name is registered as the new owner.

    Hoof-branding irons can be bought for use by a trained professional; the mark branded on the hoof (usually a postcode) takes several months to grow out. You
    buy the branding irons and your farrier can redo the brands as and when required.

    Microchipping is also a popular way of identifying the owner of a horse. Again, make sure you register as the owner of any microchipped horse you buy.

    With all of the methods that involve “marking” your horse, it is wise to alert people that these horses are marked and can be identified as yours.

    Don’t discount how much your dog can deter a potential burglar. A burglar doesn’t know whether the dog is friendly, if it will bark, or even if there are more dogs on the yard. For those without a dog, doorbells that trigger a “bark” recording may convince some that you do own one.

    Try to make sure that there is always a person on site, making this obvious to anyone passing by. The thought of someone being able to pick up the phone and call the police could make thieves think twce about breaking in. If you can’t have someone on site all the time, tell a trusted neighbour or friend to keep a lookout for anything suspicious.

    Check all the access routes to your yard, boxes and trailers. Is there an easy way for someone to slip in and out undetected? If so, make it more difficult. Is there a dark area of the yard for someone to hide in? If the answer is yes, fit a security light.

    Make sure you are adequately covered by insurance. Check that you have met all the security requirements on your policy and that your premium payments or policy have not lapsed.

  • These useful tips were first published in Horse & Hound (2 and 9 December, ’04)

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