THE pros and cons of different theft deterrents have been discussed following the thefts of a number of saddles from horseboxes at a high-profile show.
On the weekend of the Keysoe Winter Classic (4–7 November) thieves broke into multiple lorry tack lockers during the night and stole saddles, some of which had trackers fitted. An investigation by Bedfordshire Police is ongoing.
Ellen Lutener, whose son and daughter were competing at Keysoe, had four Devoucoux saddles, with stirrups attached, stolen from their tack locker while they slept.
“You hear of these things happening but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you. The saddles were personalised and had names stamped into them, which you would think would put people off. We have now bought an alarm for the tack lockers which runs off solar panels,” Ellen told H&H.
Theft prevention measures can include postcode stamping, trackers, microchipping and microdots. PCSO Shaun Taylor of West Yorkshire Police told H&H there are pros and cons to each.
“Trackers are beneficial, but like all security systems, there are people who will find a way around them and it is possible to block them,” he said. “Postcode stamping is still useful, but it’s important if you buy a secondhand saddle to make sure you know what postcode it has been marked with. It sounds obvious, but if you don’t know what the saddle has been marked with, it makes it much harder for the police to recover it.”
Bedfordshire Police’s PC Grant Hayes said numerous companies offer microdot technology, in which small dots are painted on to a saddle that can be registered and later identified by the police.
“Alternatively, saddles can be microchipped and registered with Farmkey or Datatag. Riders can also register their tack with the Police National Mobile Property Register,” he said, adding that riders should keep a tack inventory with photos and serial numbers to prove ownership in the event of lost or stolen tack being found by police.
“With regard to lorry security, if financially possible, consider installing alarms or cameras on the tack lockers and change the locks so that they are not generic. uWatch is a company that offers a security camera which has functions including motion sensors, GPS tracking, and temperature sensor.”
Livery yard owner and showjumper Shannon Wilson [who was not at Keysoe] told H&H she had her tack fitted with a microchip by Lincolnshire Police and was provided with signage to display warning the tack is microchipped.
“It might not ultimately stop my tack being stolen, but if someone tried to get rid of it at an auction and it was scanned, then there’s a chance of it being returned,” she said.
Thames Valley Horsewatch volunteer Belinda Davies carries out postcode stamping and engraving on bits and stirrups and believes having a physical mark is more effective than something that can be removed.
“If you have say a tracker and it relies on a battery, then it’s likely it’s going to be easily detachable for you to charge it so someone could just take it off and throw it away,” she said.
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