Alert over equestrian thefts

POLICE are warning horse owners to be on their guard following a string of thefts from stables and tack rooms over a large area of Suffolk.

POLICE are warning horse owners to be on their guard following a string of thefts from stables and tack rooms over a large area of Suffolk.

More than £9,000 worth of equestrian and other equipment has so far been stolen.

Thefts have been reported in villages which include Winston, Thorndon, Baylham, Old Newton and Debenham.

Police are advising horse owners to review their current security measures to prevent further offences.

Les King, a Suffolk police crime reduction officer, said: “Anyone offered any tack or animal husbandry items for sale in suspicious circumstances should contact police.

“Thieves must be selling the items they have stolen, so if you are offered saddles or other equestrian equipment at too good to be true prices or in an unusual location, tell police immediately. Check if the equipment has been marked and officers can then check if the item has been reported as lost or stolen.”

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One recent victim, who asked not to be identified, said: “The police have been very good - they are getting the message out to everyone who may be vulnerable.”

Many stables and tack rooms are isolated wooden structures, often without power for lighting or intruder alarms making them very vulnerable, especially in the darker winter months.

Mr King said that ideally all tack or saddles should be contained within a brick built room, with a well-fitted solid wooden door secured with a high-security close shackle padlock and bar.

“However, wooden structures can also be secured with the same level of physical security, including the hinges. All larger tack rooms should be protected with an intruder alarm system, saddles should be photographed and all saddlery should be security marked, including head collars, bridles and rugs.”

The marking, with either a postcode and house number or name, can be achieved through freeze branding, micro-chipping, stamping kits, permanent maker pens or engraving.

Members of the Farmwatch and Horsewatch schemes receive messages from Suffolk Constabulary's Police Direct service. The NFU also has its own e-mail messaging service.

People signed up to Police Direct receive information by e-mail or text about crimes or incidents relevant to their location or business soon after they happen. More information about Police Direct can be found on the Suffolk Constabulary website or by contacting the local Community Watch liaison officer.

Anyone with any information about thefts of equestrian equipment should contact Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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