Riders are being warned to be on their guard at events and shows, following recent thefts at Milton Keynes and Larkhill Horse Trials.

Competitors must be more vigilant and lock their lorries, and not leave wallets, handbags and tack on display or outside, say organisers.

Fiona Gifkins of Milton Keynes Eventing Centre told H&H they had a “professional thief” at their spring horse trials last month (23-24 April). Four wallets and one handbag went missing from the event.

“They were all taken from unlocked lorries,” she said. “I found a wallet dumped in the bin in the loos — all the cash and credit cards were gone.”

She said riders must ensure they are not easy targets.

Wallets were also taken from lorries at Larkhill in early April. Ms Gifkin says she has seen evidence that suggests the incidents are connected. Police are investigating.

Garry Porter from Horsewatch Alliance UK urged riders to use common sense.

“Don’t leave your saddle resting against the box. Don’t leave your handbag lying on the front seat of an unlocked lorry,” he told H&H.

“You assume you’re with like-minded people, but that’s when you’re vulnerable and thieves take advantage. Don’t drop your guard.”

Mike Etherington-Smith of British Eventing said it was a “great shame”, adding: “We encourage everyone attending events in any capacity to be vigilant and to lock valuables away in your vehicles.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (30 May 2013)