Countryside thieves spring into action


countryside theftSpring doesn’t mean just an idyllic ideal as the countryside comes back to life – the new season also means a surge in thefts from farms and riding stables.

Living a life in the country may come with less stress, but rural thefts cost rural dwellers around £42.3 million during 2012 and an influx in tourists also means more thieves.

Insurers are warning rural businesses to take security precautions to try to prevent the loss of expensive animals and equipment.

Labelling equipment is one way to deter thieves – especially for farms and stables that see almost £1.5 million of tack and other livestock equipment vanish every year.

Competition riders with expensive equipment are saddled with the problem of criminal gangs targeting their stables but also less secure gymkhana, dressage and point-to-point events, explained insurer NFU Mutual.

The insurer warns custom-made saddles are the main target of thieves – and they get a chance to check out their targets while horses and ponies are in the show ring.

The firm’s Alison Cox said: “Tack theft is a constant worry for horse owners and the theft of these essential items is a blow to the rider’s pockets, particularly if the items are uninsured or underinsured.

“It is important that people review their insurance policies to make sure that they have the right level of cover in place for their tack taking into account the replacement cost of old tack for new which could be much more expensive. The cost of the individual components of tack such as stirrup leathers and irons can also quickly mount up.

“To help avoid theft, horse owners are reminded to keep their horsebox or car and trailer locked at all times when attending a show and to consider security marking their tack.”

Countryside thefts do not stop at tack – the haul includes trailers, fencing equipment, tack and feed.

“Although increased vigilance of people living and working in the countryside and improved security measures are making it harder for these items to be stolen, tack theft is still a major concern,” said Cox.

Laura Collett, British Eventing Star and Team Gold winner of the Young Rider European Championships suggests taking photos of equipment.

“A clear picture with a close up of any distinguishing marks will help the police identify stolen property and will allow you to prove ownership if you see it offered for sale,” she said.

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