Monday, 8 December 2014

Crime Prevention

In the past few weeks there have been a number of tack thefts around where I live and keep the horses.  This, in addition, to all the really sad stories of horse theft I keep seeing on Facebook have encouraged me to find out more about Crime Prevention and what I can do.  My local police and Horse Watch have a lot of great suggestions.

It is a good idea to have photographs of your horse in summer and winter.  These photos should be of the horse from the front, back and both sides, so that his markings are clear.  It is also a good idea to take a photo of any peculiar marks, scars or whorls (make sure you can tell where on the horse the marking is).  If you have several prints on hand then you can circulate them quickly should the worst happen and your horse is taken.

Security Markings
There are several options for marking your horse.  Think about which will be more appropriate for your horse:

  • Freeze Marking/Branding - this is humanely done.  Chesney is freeze marked and was done when he was relatively young on his saddle patch.  Alternatively, you can have your horse marked on the shoulder or neck if you do not want your horse to have time off work or he is particularly sensitive.  The advantage to freeze marking is that it is obvious (if your horse is not rugged) to any potential thief.  The records are kept and registration papers issued to owners.
 This is NOT Chesney's freeze mark!

  • Hoof Branding - This is when your postcode is branded on your horses' hoof.  You purchase the branding irons and your farrier applies the brand.  Obviously this will need re-doing as the hoof grows.

  • Microchip Implant - This is a microchip implanted in the neck (in the same way they can do cats and dogs).  The RSPCA and other organisations have the transceivers which will detect the signal from the microchip if the horse is stolen.  All horses have to be microchipped when you apply for a passport now!

Consider installing burglar alarms, cameras and/or security lighting. 

Do not mark the Tackroom door - that makes it too easy for a thief.  Openly display signs and advertise that all your property has been security marked.  Secure all doors with substantial padlocks BUT NEVER padlock a stable if the horse/pony/donkey is in the stable as you must be able to release them quickly in case of a fire.

Gates should be secured with padlocks and hinges fitted so that the gate cannot be lifted off.  Ensure fences and hedges are in a good state of repair and do not provide easy access for thieves.  If possible have wide ditches and steep banks of soil around your field or paddock.  Check  your fences and hedges every day - thieves have been known to make a hole and return to take the horse later.  They just put the branches back so you cannot see what they have done.

Hang signs on fences to show that your horse and tack is security marked to help deter potential thieves. 

You should check your horse at least once a day and ideally twice, this will help the police pinpoint the time he/she was taken if needs be. If possible vary the times you visit so that thieves will not be able to use routine to their advantage. 

If you keep your horse at grass then DO NOT leave a headcollar or leadrope dangling on the gate as this will make it easier for a thief to take your horse.

Electric fence equipment is also being stolen nowadays.  So apply the same ideas to this.  Take a photograph of the unit, record the make, model and serial number.  Mark it in some way.  Attach it securely to a fixed point.  Stolen units tend to be just pulled out of the ground or unhooked from a fence.  If possible hide or camouflage your unit behind a hedge, fence or tree.  Cover the light (that shows the power is on) with tape as this makes the unit easily identifiable in the dark.  

If you see a suspicious vehicle take the registration and make and model and report it to the police.

Ensure your horse's passport is completed and up to date.  The photographs mentioned above will reflect what the passport shows too.  Your horse MUST have a passport, there are big fines if he doesn't. 
Have a photocopy of your horse's passport kept in a safe place and you should always carry it when transporting your horse (even short distances).

This is a huge problem, especially at this time of year.  You should mark your saddlery and equipment as your property in some way.  This will help deter thieves from stealing it as it will be harder to sell on, but will also help the Police return any property to you if it is stolen.  Post coding your property is the simplest and most effective type of identification; include the first 2 letters or numbers of your address too.

There are several different ways to mark your tack and equipment.

  • Leather stamping 
  • Engraving the metal stirrup bar 
  • Microchipping 
  • Forensic marking 
  • Permanent Marker Pen 
  • Paint (2 part epoxy) 
  • Transfers 
  • Embroidery 
  • Self adhesive stickers

You can have your tack postcoded which can be done with a metal punch or an engraving tool.  Some saddlers offer this service or you can purchase the kit yourself.  It is best to do this under the saddle flap.  It is not advisable to have your code stamped on thin bits of leather ie: reins but under the headpiece is fine.  Your postcode can be engraved on the stirrup bar of your saddle.  You should NOT engrave your postcode onto a bit as this will cause sharp sections which will damage your horse's mouth.  

You can get your saddle microchippped now too. 

Smart water is best used on the stitching near the stirrup bar(somewhere you don't touch regularly)and keep a log of where you have marked it. 

To mark your rugs use a permanent pen, paint, embroidery or transfers in the bottom rear corner. Photograph saddlery especially if it unusual. this can really help detect stolen goods.  Also ensure you have a list of all your tack with the identification numbers and where it is marked, saddle make etcetera.

Postcode your yard utensils etcetera, visible marking is the best deterrent.  Take photos if the items are valuable and keep an inventory.

Photograph your horse box or trailer from different angles.  Ensure it is immobilised when parked but that it can be brought into use quickly in the event of an emergency.  There are a variety of wheel clamps and hitch locks available.  

Also, consider car alarms and immobilisers for your horse box.  Have notices on your vehicle to say that your tack and horse are security coded.

Have your trailer security marked with your postcode, or use self adhesive letters or paint to put your postcode on the roof.  Think about personalising your vehicles.  Park them where you can see them, preferably in an area which is lit up at night or has intruder security lighting. 

Keep a record of your trailers details ie: chassis number, body, hitch numbers etc

I hope you find this blog useful, I now have a checklist of things .... some which I know are done and some which I am going to do! 

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Until next time!

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