The car and trailer towing test was scrapped last year as part of Government plans to tackle the HGV driver shortage crisis, so since December, most drivers have been legally able to tow a horse trailer without taking an extra test.
Leicestershire Police and SEIB Insurance Brokers are two organisations that have told H&H of increased numbers of trailer thefts since the law came into force.
A police spokesman told H&H the issue is not just a local one, and that many trailers are being stolen overnight from isolated, rural locations. Owners are also reminded that any delay in reporting a theft to police can cause issues.
Lucie Pritchard’s Ifor Williams 506 was stolen from a livery yard in Nottinghamshire last month. Lucie believes the increase in thefts is linked to the law change.
“It’s too much of a coincidence otherwise; there’s much more demand now and prices have shot up,” she told H&H. “I’ve since upgraded my trailer, and I got £1,000 more than I’d paid for it 11 months before.”
Lucie has urged others to check their insurance policies to ensure their trailer locks meet the appropriate specification, and to consider a tracker — hers meant her trailer was recovered within 24 hours.
“It changes your mentality from ‘My trailer’s been stolen and there’s nothing I can do’ to ‘My trailer’s been stolen, let’s go and find it’,” she said. “The tracker made life a lot easier, and meant the police were more likely to make an effort as there was more chance of recovery.”
“Also to consider is that I had everything on it; hitch lock, wheel lock, postcode on the roof, but the insurers said they may not have paid out as they weren’t approved brands,” Lucie added. “I’ve bought others now, for £600. I’d also only insured it for £4,000 but its value had gone up, and if they had paid out, it might not have been its full worth, so it’s worth getting a valuation.”
Treve Jenkyn, data protection officer at trailer and plant checking company The Equipment Register, said people often park trailers at livery yards, and do not always notice straight away if they are stolen.
“A horse trailer that has been gone for several days could have been sold on, sometimes even twice, before it is reported as stolen,” he said.
SEIB deputy chairman Barry Fehler said: “If a trailer is purchased that is later identified as stolen, the purchaser is liable to return the trailer to its rightful owner. We work closely with police and theft tracking companies and the information they hold on stolen trailers. By reporting the theft of a trailer quickly, it dramatically increases the chance of it being successfully returned to its rightful owner. Having the correct insurance provides peace of mind for our customers.”
Leicestershire Police advised owners to hide trailers from view, block them in if possible, use appropriate locks, and consider postcode-marking panels. Owners should also note the model and serial numbers, keep photos of the trailer, and pass all the above details to police if reporting a theft.
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