‘I thought it was a scam!’ rider’s stolen trailer returned 19 years later

  • The owner of a trailer that was stolen nearly 19 years ago was stunned to get a message from police to say it had been recovered, in good condition.

    Equine massage therapist Elisa Faima’s Ifor Williams 505R was not insured when it was taken from a livery yard in 2003, so she had resigned herself to the loss.

    She told H&H she bought the burgundy trailer in 2001 and initially kept it in a field where she kept her horses, in Chertsey, but after rugs were stolen from her horses’ backs, she moved it to a yard in Chobham.

    “In April 2003, I got a call from the yard to say ‘You haven’t got your trailer, have you?’” she said.

    “The thieves had tried to take a newer one but couldn’t move it and mine was the next newest so they took that. I phoned police, and Ifor Williams to register it was stolen, and that was the last I heard.”

    Then, this January, Elisa had an email from Surrey Police.

    “They said ‘Sorry to message out of the blue’ and had I owned a trailer,” she said. “I initially thought it was a scam or something dodgy, but they were trying to work out who owned it because if the insurance company had paid out, it would belong to them, and I said no it wasn’t insured, so it’s still mine, and he said ‘We’ve found it, you can have it back’ and I thought ‘Brilliant!’”

    Elisa had to pay £280 to get the trailer back; £200 to those who had collected it from where it was initially found and £20 per day storage after that.

    “They start a new day at noon and we got there at 1.30pm so that was an extra £20!” she said. “We got there and they went to collect it and when it turned up, I was nearly in tears. When I bought it, I had a horse called Zebedee who I’d done so much with in it. I lost him six years ago so there were lots of memories.”

    Elisa said the trailer is now 25 years old but it is “still in really good condition”.

    “It’s missing the middle partition and the spare wheel,” she said. “It’s had a new floor, although I’m not sure how much I trust it, but it’s all stuff we can easily do and it’s worth the money to do it.”

    Elisa had been managing by borrowing trailers, and at one point owning an older 7.5t lorry but after a riding accident in which she “nearly lost my leg twice — I’m a disaster!” the lorry clutch became too heavy so she retired it.

    If all now goes according to plan, she will get the trailer back on the road, and travel her two former racehorses in it.

    “It’s so weird,” she said, “I’d had an extra front mirror on it that was a birthday present, and it had a small crack in the mudguard, and we always looked out for them [over the years]. And for some reason, I’d kept the logbook, so maybe I’d thought one day it would be returned!

    “It was because I’d registered it as stolen with Ifor Williams, so that’s definitely worth doing, but I just can’t stop laughing; after 19 years, you don’t expect to see your stolen trailer again.”

    Surrey Police’s Detective Constable Alex Boxall told H&H: “We’re delighted to have been able to return this horsebox nearly 20 years after it was reported stolen.

    “The vehicle was recovered after officers carried out a series of proactive warrants across Surrey and Hampshire on 14 December. Seven people were charged with drug supply offences and we recovered multiple cars, along with the horsebox.”

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