Thames Valley Horsewatch has brought out a “Christmas menu”, consisting of a checklist to help people keep thieves at bay.

The menu was sparked off by a recent spate of thefts in the area, in which nine trailers, seven Shetlands, two horseboxes and a large amount of tack have been stolen in the past six weeks.

“There’s a lot of it around at the moment,” said Thames Valley Horsewatch co-ordinator Helen Evans.

“The Christmas menu is to jolt people into choosing something positive they can do to prevent themselves becoming a victim of crime,” she said. “Also, it’s about getting rural communities together — keeping your eyes open and being suspicious of everything.”

The menu features 14 security measures, under the headings “starters”, “mains” and “dessert”, from post-coded saddlery to CCTV to a yard inventory.

Ms Evans points out that by incorporating some of these measures, owners will be assisting police.

“It’s not just about having stuff stolen, but finding it again,” she says. “It’s no good you saying you’ll recognise your stolen tack. If a policeman, who knows nothing about saddles, stops a white van at 2am in the morning — how will he know who it belongs to? If it has a postcode, he could check to see if there’s a crime reference number. Otherwise he has no reason to hold the suspect.”

Yorkshire horse owners have suffered the most of late. The latest Horsewatch Bulletin reports 11 tack thefts in the county during October and November. One raid included 20 saddles, another 14 saddles and 11 bridles, another £30,000 worth of tack. And good security is not always sufficient deterrent.

The Horsewatch newsletter advises: “Some thefts are well planned, with thieves arriving with large vehicles large. You can help deter these professionals by varying your daily routines not to be too predictable with your arrival times. And check your fencing. You may find your wire has been cut in readiness for a crime.”

HORSEWATCH CHRISTMAS MENU

Starters

  • Freeze brand for horse
  • Post-coded saddlery
  • Security tagging for trailer
  • Tracker for the horsebox

Mains

  • Better padlocks
  • Stronger chains
  • Security lights
  • Alarm
  • CCTV
  • Postcode for roof of box/trailer

Dessert

  • Description of everything written down
  • Yard awareness of security plans
  • Emergency numbers to hand
  • Complete security review

More security advice for stable yards.