Thieves know that there is a strong possibility that what they steal cannot simply be personalised by the real owner, making it easy to sell on, and difficult to trace.
Crimes against the equine community are relatively rare in Cumbria, but 2013 saw a significant increase in crimes of this nature.
As a response to this problem Cumbria Constabulary is spearheading a Cumbria Horsewatch scheme in a bid to cut this tide of thefts and heartache for the owners of horses.
The scheme's aim is to offer advice and guidance to all those involved in equestrian pursuits - no matter how large or small their roles might be - on the best way to ensure they don't get an unwelcome call from the equine criminals and how best to protect their equine property.
These pages on the Police Website aims to provide advice on cheap and simple crime prevention measures that horse and stable owners could take to protect their property.
Cumbria Horsewatch is managed by a Police Support Volunteer. The aims and objectives of Cumbria Horsewatch are to prevent and reduce the incidents of Equine related crimes.
The Cumbria Horsewatch scheme is a member of the National Horse Watch Scheme, known as UK Horsewatch Alliance, covering the majority of counties in England, Wales and Scotland. The Alliance web site is www.ukhorsewatch.org.uk
The Cumbria Horse Watch is within the Northern Region of the Alliance set up, following the national police regions.
Policing the rural areas cannot be the task of the police alone. To keep the communities within towns and countryside safe requires the help and assistance of the community at large. Communities are the radar for the police. Communities can provide information from which the police can act.
Cumbria Horsewatch is supportive to the aims and objectives of Farm Watch whose aims are to reduce rural crime, reassure rural residents and to improve communication and engagement.
Cumbria Horsewatch plays an important role within the community and supports the police
Equine related crime still remains relatively low within Cumbria and this is a reflection on the continuing work on promoting crime prevention and deterrent measures within the equine community.
- Freeze mark – visible deterrent which is permanent – a unique number is branded onto your horse either on his withers or shoulder. Worth getting together with your friends or people on the same yard to reduce costs. Some companies offer a discount on the horse’s insurance if they are freeze marked.
- Microchip – your vet will arrange this for you. Some vets offer to do this at a discounted rate when your horse has its annual flu injections.
- Post code branded onto hoof – needs to be regularly re-done as the foot grows and is trimmed by the farrier.
- Take photos of your horse from every angle, especially any unusual markings or scars. Keep them in a safe place. This will help the police if your horse is stolen.
- Make sure you have your horse’s passport with you every time you transport your horse, even if it is only for a short distance and that it is up to date. Keep a photocopy of it at home, in a safe place, in case you lose it or it is stolen, so that you have all the relevant details to contact the society that issued it to you.
- Leather stamp – stamp your post code and number/first two letters if a name of your home on your saddle. Kits can be purchased to do it yourself; some saddlers also offer this service. Bridles are stamped on the underside of the headpiece.
- Engraved – engrave your postcode onto the stirrup bar.
- Smartwater – mark on your saddles where you don’t touch regularly. Keep a log of where it is marked with the smartwater pack in case of a theft.
- Microchip – some saddlers offer this service.
- Keep an inventory of all your tack and keep it updated. Make a note of where it is security marked.
- Take photos of your tack, especially any unusual marks or differentiating features and keep in a safe place. This will help the police identify your tack if it is stolen.
- Paint your vehicle registration on the roof of your vehicle.
- Farmkey offer a service where you can buy a kit that provides a unique number to put on the roof which they also register.
- Record all relevant numbers, e.g. chassis etc
- Take photos from all angles, keep in a safe place to help in the police identify the vehicle if it is stolen.
- Ensure the area you keep your tack in is secure at all times even if the ramp is down.
- Fit additional locks and alarms if necessary.
- Be on your guard at all times, especially if you are at a show or horse sale.
- Put notices on your windows, partitions and ramp that your horse and tack is security coded.
- Rugs, brushes, yard utensils – post code it. Visible marking is the best deterrent.
- Again, take photos if the item is valuable.
- Keep an inventory.
FIELD AND YARD SECURITY
- Turn gate hinges upside down and weld if necessary.
- Lock gates at all times.
- Check hedges and fencing every day – thieves have been known to make a hole in the hedge to take the horse later and just put the branches back so that you can not see what they have done until it is too late.
- Put signs up saying you have security systems in place – that your horse and tack is security marked.
- Look at locks, alarms and CCTV if necessary. Use sensor lights low level lighting at night.
- Visit your yard and field at different times.
- Always lock your car when visiting your yard.
- If you go to your yard or field on your own make sure you have a mobile phone with you and someone knows where you are and what time you expect to be back.
- Take down the registration of suspicious vehicles and report it to the police.
- Ask anyone you don’t know who is on your yard or property who they are and what their purpose is – if you are concerned call the police.
Whether you own your own ground or rent it from the landowner the security of your equipment is paramount.
Unfortunately there have been incidents where show equipment has been taken in the past, especially jumps, and unless they are marked and recorded in an inventory it will be very difficult to trace them or prove ownership once they have been stolen. This advice has been put together to help you review your security arrangements and hopefully stop this happening to your club. If unfortunately a theft does take place it will also improve the chances of your equipment being returned to you.
- Look closely at the perimeter of the field/show ground as if you were a criminal wanting to get in and steal equipment: look at the weak points and take action to strengthen them.
- If possible remove all gates/entrances that you no longer use.
- If possible plant thorn hedges with deep ditches and bunds (ditches without a bund should be fenced for health and safety reasons).
- Ensure all fencing is robust and secure.
- Make regular checks around your perimeter to ensure it is secure. Offenders can make an entrance, cover it up temporarily and return later. Ensure nothing seems unusual or out of place.
- Where possible at your entrance have a second inner gate.
- Invert and cap all gate hinges so that the gates cannot be lifted off.
- Use good quality padlocks with covers so that they cannot be cut off.
- Ensure all fixing bolts cannot be removed.
- If a gateway is not being used for a lengthy period of time, i.e. during the winter, ask the owner of the field if a temporary obstruction could be placed in front of it.
- Use locking posts or temporary obstructions to large openings.
- If possible use CCTV and sensor lighting (sensor lights are available with cameras).
- Put up signs all around the perimeter stating that all property owned by the club is securely marked.
- Find out who your Neighbourhood Policing Team is (visit the Cumbria Constabulary website for details at cumbria.police.uk/)
- If you cannot find the information you require please telephone 101 and ask for your NPT Area.
- If there are any houses near to the ground, introduce yourself and ask them to keep an eye on the field. Provide them with contact details so if they see something suspicious they can contact you so that you can either check it out or contact the Police with details. Do not go to the field on your own, always have someone with you and carry a mobile phone, consider carrying a personal alarm. Your security is paramount.
All equipment should be marked, photographed and recorded in a log from the cheapest item to the most expensive.
- After each show put your equipment away.
- All equipment should be placed in a secure area, preferably a container or secured compound.
- Store equipment away from any road or right of way.
- Do not store equipment where it is visible from the road or a right of way.
- Jumps, including poles, fillers, wings and cups should be marked with either the initials of the riding club or a post code. Permanent marker pens or paint (use oil based paint) are cheap ways of doing this. Do a sample first to ensure it works on the relevant surface and cannot be wiped off.
- The same marking should be done on dressage boards, gymkhana equipment and showing items.
Timing Equipment & Tanoy Systems
- Expensive items e.g. timing equipment or tanoy systems should be marked with a property marking solution and visibly marked with the clubs initials or postcode. If you use a property marking solution such as SmartWater put up signs around the perimeter and in the club caravan, if you have one, advertising the fact.
- Where possible do not leave expensive equipment at the show site.
Tractor & Implements
- If your club has a tractor or implements such as harrows, a roller or leveller – look at the possibility of storing them at secure premises.
- If this is not possible make a secure area and fence it off. Place an obstruction at the entrance. Store away from road and rights of way.
- Consider recording them on the National Plant & Equipment Register.
- Mark with a property marking solution and put a label on the equipment showing it is marked. Put visible markings on the equipment, i.e. paint the postcode or club initials on a visible area. Consider a tagging security system, immobiliser or wheel/ steering lock system.
- If possible do not store equipment in the caravan.
- Close the curtains and do not leave any items inside on display.
- Fit a security alarm and Window shock alarms.
If you would like Cumbria Horse Watch signs – email: TM_CumbriaHorseWatch@cumbria.police.uk.