Bespoke hats were stolen from tradestands while the shop owners were sleeping just metres away.
The thefts took place overnight on 21 to 22 June at Dressage at Hickstead’s premier league and dressage masters championships (19-23 June).
Flying Changes Bespoke Jackets & Tailcoats and Tidy Tack Rooms were both targeted.
“It’s very frustrating and disappointing,” said Sarah Cheetham, owner of Flying Changes.
“[The thieves] were very foolish, they’ve taken 20 unique, bespoke hats that are exclusive to us, made up with our own fabrics to match our jackets and tailcoats.”
She added this means they are instantly recognisable if they appear for sale or are worn in competition.
While the dressage competition runs at the same time as the Hickstead Derby meeting, it is at a separate part of the showground and is not under the same organisation or security management as Hickstead Ltd, the All England Jumping Course.
Sarah was sleeping in the lorry behind the trade tent when the crooks cut open the marquee and took the hats.
Among the stolen Charles Owen helmets is the Charlotte Dujardin display hat, which has her Flying Changes tailcoat fabric running through the middle and features red and white piping.
A grey hat with rows of pink crystals on each side of the piping is also among the 20 stolen helmets.
She added the team at Dressage at Hickstead have been “very supportive” and the crime has highlighted a weakness in the security, which they are reviewing.
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Cassie Capsey, owner of Tidy Tackrooms, was also asleep in a tent when thieves cut along the zipper tapes of the marquee to steal 10 Scharf UK helmets from her stand.
“They didn’t touch anything else on the stand,” she told H&H. “They took the protective packaging off the hats and left the boxes.”
She added the hats will not be covered by warranty and all have unique serial numbers on them.
Both marquees were locked at the time of the thefts and the store owners are hoping to raise awareness to make the goods “too hot to handle”.
Dane Rawlins, Dressage at Hickstead organiser, told H&H security will be reviewed.
“We will do our best to do whatever we can,” he said.
He added the team will be looking at improving the CCTV and making changes to the number of patrols on site.
In this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out on Thursday 28 June 2018, don’t miss our full report from the Hickstead Derby meeting, including all the showjumping and showing action, plus don’t miss our six-page report from Royal Ascot.
We also have a feature on the much discussed whip rules across the disciplines and in this week’s ‘Vet clinic’ we find out how to spot the signs of sand colic.