Hampshire Horsewatch was set up in September 2000 to support the equine community in deterring, preventing and reducing equine related crime. Since its conception Hampshire Horsewatch has worked closely with Hampshire Constabulary to ensure that the correct information and messages relating to equine and rural crime are forwarded onto the community.
The involvement of Hampshire Horsewatch with the equine community is to spread the message of prevention. This encompasses not just crime but fire prevention and other preventative measures endorsed by Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service.
As always it is better to prevent rather than try and find a "cure".
The success of any Horsewatch Scheme revolves around the dedication of its members. Their commitment to their animals provides a basis on which to build a range of measures which can help to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of any occurrence. In many cases, dedication alone will not be sufficient. A range of proven preventative measures have therefore been developed to help support the horse owner to prevent occurrences involving loss.
Equine crime is not prolific in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The theft of a horse or even attacks are a rarity anywhere in the country. Theft of equine property, such as tack, trailers, horse feed is much more likely. There remains the need to protect your animals and property by constantly reviewing and updating your security and by being more aware of what is happening in your area. Report all suspicious circumstances and crimes no matter how small or insignificant to the Police.
The following information gives general guidance on a whole range of security measures covering horses, tack, trailers, horseboxes and stables. In addition see the guidance issues in this scam guide.
Advice and Crime prevention measures which you can take yourself:
THIEVES TACTICS: A lot of thieves are opportunists who may try door handles etc. on the off chance that you have had a lack of concentration and forgotten to make things secure. Other offenders prepare for high value thefts and will not only come prepared but they may plan in advance by carrying out the following:
They may monitor your daily routine, logging times of arrival and departure over a period of time.
Your security may be tested in advance to see where and how far they can get into your yard before they are challenged or set off any alarms. Remember to record any descriptions of persons or vehicles as this could be valuable information if offences are committed at a later date.
Offenders may make note of what security you have in place such as alarms and lights, being seen to have these in place will make you a less desirable target.
The location and access of your tack room will be checked by thieves. Making these locations as secure as possible will go a long way in preventing you becoming a victim of a crime.
Offenders commit offences day or night so do not become complacent. When you are leaving your yard or getting out of your vehicle be aware that someone maybe watching so make sure you lock up. Try to vary your daily routine, and get your neighbours to alert you to any unusual activity.
Using Social Media Just be aware that almost anyone can access Face Book, Twitter, etc – is it really wise to advertise you will be away at a show, or to post photos of your new yard, new horse box etc? Think before you post, do not make yourself vulnerable.
Please check your site/s and take action where necessary
An unlawful incursion onto your land can be a substantial nuisance, interfering with its normal usage, but it can also be costly. As well as the legal costs of removal landowners may incur costs in clearing any waste left behind.
The site protection measures described here are not exhaustive and will not guarantee that unauthorised access is prevented but they will make your land less inviting.
Remember to consider planning regulations and environmental issues before implementing measures and to ensure that measures affect only your land and not that of neighbours or the highway. You should seek advice on these aspects.
Firstly have a good look at the perimeter of your land and with a critical eye consider how you would go about getting onto it with a vehicle and trailer. Don’t forget trespassers have been known in the past to remove ineffective barriers and to bridge gaps!
Mounds are formed using rubble or hard-core as a base finished with topsoil then planted or grassed. These can add to your landscaping and do not need to be ugly. Strategically placed they can prevent access to a perimeter, infill gaps between trees and other obstacles and can border gating which protects but preserves your authorised access.
This method can be combined with mounding with the spoil being used for the mounds. Remember to consider drainage implications. Bear in mind also that ditches can and have been bridged, they can however be effective in filling gaps in your perimeter.
There are a wide variety of obstacles that can be used; they can be effective in plugging gaps in an otherwise secure perimeter where authorised access is not required. They should be of such a nature that they cannot be readily moved even with towing equipment. These can be a cheap option utilising such things as concrete filled tyre stacks however these can be unsightly, large tree trunks or boulders can be more sympathetic. You should make sure that what you choose does not detrimentally affect the visual amenity of the area otherwise you could end up being required to remove or alter them.
There are many fencing options on the market to choose from. Steel palisade fencing is among the most effective but costs may well be a factor. Wooden fencing is more pleasing to the eye but it can be more vulnerable to damage. The spacing of posts should take into account the width of vehicles that may attempt access.
You can protect your own authorised access points with strong robust gates, preferably metal. Remember to use toughened steel padlocks and ‘boxing in’ the padlock housing helps to prevent them being forced using angle grinders etc. remember also to ensure the gate cannot simply be lifted off at the hinge end!
These are usually combined with gates and can be fixed or swing and padlocked to facilitate authorised access. Again toughened steel padlocks boxed in are advisable for a swinging barrier. The height should be configured so as to deter the average caravan trailer.
HORSE DESCRIPTION: Take colour photographs of your animal in summer and winter. Ensure that it is standing correctly. It is preferable to have the photograph taken without a rider on its back or anyone else in the photograph. Take photographs from the side as well as the front and behind. If the animal has a peculiar mark or scar photograph that as well and make sure you can identify where on the animal the mark or scar is.
Have several images recorded. Nowadays images are easily taken on digital/phone cameras and can be downloaded so that you can circulate them quickly if your animal is stolen. Ensure you complete the horse description as soon as possible after purchase or acquisition. Ensure that any marks, whorls etc are shown. it in doubt have the drawing completed by a veterinary surgeon. The Horsewatch inventory sheet provides a convenient and easy way for these details to be recorded and kept safe.
SECURITY MARKING: Have your animal security marked. Experience has proven that marking your animal, as well as your tack, does deter thieves. Ensure that you check your animal at least twice daily and vary your times. Do not set up a pattern for the thief to use to their advantage. If your animals are grass kept do not leave a headcollar or a lead rope dangling at the gate because this could help the thief take your horse. Present recognised methods of security marking for equines are:
Freeze Branding: You can make your horse uniquely identifiable by freeze branding which is a popular permanent method of making horses more identifiable, allowing the horse to be traced back to its owner if stolen. The process is quick. The branding iron is cooled in liquid nitrogen and applied to the skin. Pigment cells on the skin are destroyed and the hairs grow back white and stay that way for life. The irons are applied to a grey's skin for a little longer. The hair follicle is destroyed leaving a bald patch in the shape of the numbers and letters. This does not cause the horse any discomfort. Records of freeze marked animals are kept and registration papers are issued to owners.
Hoof Branding: This involves having your post code branded on your animal's hooves you purchase the branding irons and have your farrier apply the brand. It requires periodic renewal as the hoof grows.
Microchip Implant: Micro chipping is an alternative to freeze marking. A chip the size of a grain of rice is inserted into the neck with a hypodermic needle. Each chip holds basic information and is registered on a computerised system. When a scanner is passed over the horse, this information can be matched with the owner's details. Until recently there was no outward evidence on a micro chipped horse, but now the horse can also be freeze marked with a small symbol indicating the existence of the microchip. We do, however, recommend that a visible brand is carried out, with or without micro chipping. The RSPCA and certain other organisations have transceivers which can detect the signal from the microchip if the horse is stolen. It is important to note that all horses born after the 1st July 2009 must be microchipped within six months of birth or by the 31st December of the year in which it was born. If a horse born before the 1st July 2009 has no horse passport and is sold the owner of the horse must passport it and have it microchipped. For more information about horse passport and microchip legislation or to see if your question can be answered on line visit the British Horse Society (BHS) web site https://www.bhs.org.uk. If you have a question which hasn't been answered within the site please do not hesitate to contact the BHS Passport Office on 02476 840574 or email@example.com.
Passports: It is a legal requirement for all horses and ponies to have an equine passport. This also includes donkeys, mules and zebras. Horses must be accompanied by their passport at all times. The exceptions are when the horse is stabled, out at pasture or if the horse is moved on foot. However, the passport must be made available within three hours of it being requested by an enforcement agency. The only exception when the passport is not required is when the horse is being transported for emergency veterinary treatment. The passport must always accompany the horse:
when the horse is moved into or out of the United Kingdom
when the horse is used at a competition when the horse is moved to new premises
when the horse is presented at a slaughterhouse for slaughter at the time a horse is sold
when the horse is used for breeding purposes when a veterinary surgeon attends the horse to administer vaccinations or if the horse requires medication
when the horse is transported
For further advice on passports and how to request replacements please visit the British Horse Society http://www.bhs.org.uk/welfare-and-care/horse-passports/faqs
TACK AND SADDLERY All saddlery should be security marked. You can have your tack post coded which is done with a metal punch or an engraving tool, but it is not advisable to stamp your code on reins and thin bits of leather. Your post code can be engraved on a stirrup bar of your saddle. Do not be tempted to engrave your post code on any bits - this could leave you with an animal with a sore mouth and a vet’s bill!
Hampshire Horsewatch has access to tack marking equipment and is very happy to come to your yard to apply your postcode on all leather, synthetic and metal equipment. A guide including a list of holders of equipment is HERE. Hampshire Horsewatch attends many horse shows and this is the ideal time and opportunity to get your tack post coded.
Property marking equipment may be available from your Local Hampshire Horsewatch Co-ordinator or the Police can offer a tack marking service. Also photograph your saddlery especially if it is unusual. This is a valuable aid towards the detection of stolen goods. Ensure you have a comprehensive list of all your tack. Please make sure you complete all the necessary details on the identification as it is very difficult to trace stolen tack without knowing the saddle’s make or identifying number.
Another crime prevention recommendation is the fitting to a saddle/s with a Datatag chip which can be read with a scanner which will show the owners details. A Stud is also supplied to be fitted to the saddle to identify that it contains a Datatag chip. For more information visit http://datatag.co.uk/equine.phpwhere Horsewatch members may receive a discount.
Marking your rugs with your post code will help prevent their theft, help safeguard your horse and if they are lost can stop their resale. It will also enable someone to return them to you should they be found. Even though you think it is just an old summer sheet or turnout, if it’s stolen your loss is the price of a replacement which can easily be hundreds of pounds. Multiply this by all the rugs you keep at the yard and a theft can be a very expensive event to cope with.
There are several ways to mark your rugs depending on the type of material used. For light coloured indoor fabrics a black permanent marker pen is a quick solution.
Turnouts and thick quilted rugs can have your home postcode painted on. A neat way for marking by hand is to draw around a stencil with a ball point pen and just fill in the letters afterwards.
Iron-on lettering can be made from T-shirt transfer sheets sold in stationers. Use the dark material type so you can match or contrast the rug colour. A good bright colour combination will make the postcode easy to see even when the rug is muddy. You can also add a freeze mark to show the horse is protected that way.
Be sure to test that the rug will stand the hot iron needed to seal the transfer to the material, follow the maker’s instructions carefully and only print with an inkjet (a laser printer will melt the transfer).
HORSEBOXES AND TRAILERS: As with other equipment photograph your horse box/trailer. Ensure it is immobilised when parked, but that it can be brought into use quickly in the event of an emergency.
Use wheel clamps, hitch locks, car alarms/immobilisers. Consider having your trailer security marked with your post code.
Personalise your vehicle(s). Park them where you can see them, preferably in an area which is lit up at night or has intruder security lighting. Thefts of horse boxes and trailers have presented more of a problem over the past few years but with modern security devices fitted they are certainty a lot harder for the thief to steal.
1: Wheel Clamp 2: Hitchlock with chain 3: Car Alarm
Make it as hard as possible for thieves making your vehicles a less desirable target.
Lock and secure vehicles, especially when unattended.
Consider using wheel clamps, particularly for trailers or fitting a trailer hitch lock.
Consider ‘Autoglass/ NFU’ partnership free security glass etching service for NFU Mutual customers.
Consider fitting mechanical locking systems.
Consider immobilizers, VHF and GPS Tracker devices for high value vehicles.
Lock up and secure any All Terrain Vehicles (ATV)/quad bikes with suitable locking devices or heavy duty security chains and padlocks.
Consider fitting CESAR compact marking system (ATVs/quad bikes and smaller mechanical equipment).
Wherever possible secure vehicles and equipment out of sight in enclosed locked, alarmed storage areas when not in use and overnight.
Access and yard security:
Keep vehicles parked in a gated area keeping gates closed and locked using thick, durable chains and padlocks at both ends of the gate.
Consider securing access to the yard and parking areas overnight and during the day when unattended.
Consider using security lighting in yards and drives.
Lock equipment out of sight in secure alarmed storage areas.
Equipment registered with CESAR (opens new window) is fitted with a number of tamper-evident registration stickers and with its own unique identification and registration number. Along with this, a number of radio-frequency identification (RFID) transponders are hidden throughout the machine. There are also patches of forensic liquid DNA painted onto the machine in a number of locations. When registered with CESAR, a machine is also placed on the Datatag (opens new window) secure database which gives the police and other official agencies around the clock access to the registration information to aid identification and recovery. For information visit www.cesarscheme.org
Note: To be able to retrieve the data easily out-of-hours, pre-register yourself with Datatag and this will speed up the process considerably.
There are different types of immobilisation devices on the market, ranging from mechanical to diesel systems. These devices isolate hydraulic, electrical and fuel systems, preventing the vehicle from being moved.
Location and tracking systems
Location and tracking systems use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to locate stolen vehicles through satellite and cellular technologies. Information is directed to your internet-connected PC, laptop or mobile phone. The system can monitor the location, movement, engine hours and battery condition of your equipment.
Mechanical locking systems
Mechanical locking systems can be simple to fit and can be applied to different areas of the machine, including vehicle tracks, hydraulic breakers, buckets and posthole borers.
Buying a second hand vehicle
When buying a second hand trailer or lorry you must take similar precautions as you would when buying a car, if the price is to good to be true then take steps to ensure it is not a stolen vehicle. If you innocently purchase a stolen vehicle it will be seized and returned to the original owner. Here are recommended tips to keep you on the right track;
Always meet the seller at their home address. Don’t meet halfway in lay-bys or car parks.
If you do have to try to recover your money, you have got somewhere to start.
The seller should know his way around the trailer, with all its features and small problems.
Beware of someone ‘selling it for a friend’, who does not appear to have an interest in horses.
Ask to see proof of ownership such as their original sales receipt, owner’s manual or ask to see the Certificate of Ownership. Check to ensure all the details refer to that trailer. An honest seller will not be offended!
The most important physical item to check is the manufacturer’s unique registration plate, normally found on the chassis close to the hitch. It is highly unlikely that this will have fallen off during normal use of the trailer. If there is no plate, walk away. There will always be another trailer to look at. Most trailers with missing or damaged plates turn out to be stolen.
Ask the seller if he minds being photographed with the item he is selling. If he objects, that might just be your cue to leave!
STABLES AND PADDOCKS: Contact your Crime Reduction Officer in the Police or Local Council who will be able to give you free professional advice on all aspects of building security. Also individuals within Hampshire Horsewatch have police knowledge and can advise. Consider installing burglar alarms and security lighting. Do not mark which door is the entrance to the tack room - don’t make it easy for the the thief. If you wish openly display signs and advertise that all your property has been security marked. Secure all doors with substantial padlocks (never padlock a stable door if an animal is in the stable). Gates should also be secured with padlocks and should also have hinges fitted so that the gate cannot be lifted off.
Ensure that your fences and hedges are in a good state of repair and do not provide easy access for the thief. Have a look around your premises and ask yourself if it could be made more secure. When your animal/tack has been security marked you should display signs on fences to show that this has been done to help deter potential thieves.
1. Security Lighting & Burglar Alarm
2. Gates should be padlocked
3. Secure doors with padlocks
4. Display signs that show your property is marked
You should carry out daily field checks to ensure the fields are secure as well as for the horse’s health. While checking for poisonous weeds, litter, and that there is a suitable amount of clean, fresh water for your horse. You should also be checking whilst walking around your field check that the fencing is secure and intact, that gates are safely on their hinges, there are no gaps in hedging, and nothing has been dumped in the field overnight that may cause harm to your horse.
You should ensure that your yard has a gate at its access point which is padlocked at both ends using thick, durable chains and padlocks. A yard without a locked gate will be an easy target for offenders to lead horses straight out and onto a lorry.
Although we recommend locking yard gates to prevent the removal of horses do not put padlocks on your horse’s stable doors or on a horse barn door. In case of a fire horses will need to be easily removed and taken to a safe location such as their field.
Use thick, heavy duty chains and padlocks
Any potential offenders will not want to be seen, so having security lights fitted particularly in areas such as the yard gates, tack room door will help to deter them. We also recommend that your security lights are fitted with a metal grill to prevent a potential offender disabling the light, and placed high enough to avoid tampering.
Lock tools/wheel barrows away
Do not make life easy for a potential thief by leaving any tools on your yard which they could use to assist them in removing locks or breaking into other locked areas. Also store the yards wheelbarrows away as these would offer a thief a convenient method of removing your property. Don’t make life easy for an offender by providing them with the tools to steal your property.
We advise against labelling the tack room as this is effectively pointing an arrow to where X your expensive tack is kept. The tack room should be a secure location - a brick built room is more secure than a wooden structure. We would also recommend:
Use solid doors and door frames. Hinges and other fixings must not be accessible from the outside.
Use good locks (to latest British standards) to secure doors from the outside.
Windows and skylights should be protected with security bars to prevent access.
Remove items that can be used to climb onto the roof from around the site.
Consider a professionally installed CCTV system kite marked to BS EN50132-7 together with appropriate signage. Consider a suitable GSM, battery-operated dial alarm. For advice concerning remote locations, please visit the Alarms For Farms website.
A metal “cage” can be constructed inside a tack room for added protection.
If you see anything suspicious report it to the police. In an emergency always dial 999. You should also alert other Horsewatch Members as the thief may decide to move on to their premises.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a crime, report it to the police as soon as possible. Having reported the crime or incident to the police and having got a reference number contact Hampshire Horsewatch. We are here to help and in certain cases will be able to advise as to appropriate course of action to take. If your horse or pony has been stolen advertise his/her description (including photographs) in the local press and radio.
Police attendance at a crime scene is dependent on what you tell the operator. You will in all probability be in shock following the discovery of the crime. Be positive when you make the call. Give the police operator your horse’s description and recent photos, list of stolen tack, trailer description, serial numbers, etc. This why we recommend you maintain records, photographs of your property including registering details with www.immobilise.com. Also, any information you have on anything suspicious you have seen recently, ie strangers in the yard, boxes parked nearby, etc.
If you are in the Hampshire Horsewatch scheme, phone your local co-ordinator to set the ‘early warning grapevine’ into action – or phone local horsey friends to alert them to thieves in the area. Also contact Hampshire Horsewatch to ensure the information is passed throughout the county, into neighbouring counties and beyond by the Horsewatch Committee. Also contact the national equine press e.g. Horse and Hound, - they will be able to help you with the location of markets etc. Visit as many venues as you can, enlisting the help of friends when possible. The same principles apply to other stolen property. As an aggrieved person you will be best placed to search the Internet and other places of disposal and sale in order to try and find your property.
Advice on all aspects of crime prevention can be obtained from your Police Crime Reduction Officer or a similar post holder within your Local Council. Invariably it is best to search the respective organisation's web site to find out contact details. In any event contact Hampshire Horsewatch to tell us about your crime or occurrence which concerns you. There is no guarantee that the police will circulate your crime incident directly to Hampshire Horsewatch.
In case of the theft of your horse:
If your horse is freeze branded, phone the company, which will circulate slaughterhouses, sales, etc. with details of your horse. Phone your insurance company. They need to know and may provide you with recovery expenses. If necessary, phone horse sales and slaughterhouses with details of your horse. You can follow these up with visits, armed with your horse’s description and photos.
Alert weekly and monthly equestrian press and local press, and put up ‘stolen’ horse notices in local shops, riding schools and saddlers. Make sure your horse is registered onto www.stolenhorseregister.com. You may have to do this as there is no guarantee that the police will do this.
Preserving the scene of a crime -
Forensic Officers may be called to the site of an incident to gather forensic evidence. The following is some advice relating to the preservation of a scene of crime and its surrounding evidence should you have the misfortune to be a victim.
Preserve the scene of the crime as you found it. DO NOT disturb anything. Note the time of discovery. CONTACT THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY!
DO NOT let any other person near/touch anything until you have been cleared to do so by the Police. If your animal has been injured or abused in any way – call your Veterinary Surgeon if immediate attention is required. Any subsequent veterinary examination is overseen by a forensic officer. Look for signs of abuse if suspected, but DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN UP until you have been advised to do so. If theft is involved, note possible entry. Provide as much detail as possible for the police attending. Making a list of such details is often a welcome diversion at this anxious time. Such things will include:
What time did you discover the ‘incident’?
When did you last see everything safe and sound?
A list of property missing/damaged.
Descriptions, ie horse/vehicle passport/photographs etc. (this should have been recorded previously as recommended)
Have you or any other person seen or heard anything suspicious recently, ie strangers lurking, horse boxes parked nearby, etc.
If you are the ‘victim’ or injured party, ie owner, you will also be asked for your own details which, together with the above details will provide the basis of information for the investigation of a crime.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO REPORT ANYTHING TO THE POLICE.
Remember inform Hampshire Horsewatch of your crime or occurrence after informing the police. Remember to get a police reference number to your crime or occurrence. Hampshire Horsewatch will need this in order to speak to the police.
If you have any information about crime but do not want to identify yourself call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 - you may earn yourself a cash reward.
WHO OWNS A STOLEN HORSE?: The issue of Horses Stolen whilst out on loan or otherwise is always a difficult and thorny problem when it comes to recovery of the horse. In many cases there is the owner, ( i.e. the original loser) and the person in current possession. Who is the legal owner? All cases have to be judged on individual circumstance. If you do find yourself in such a situation it is best to talk it through with someone. You can certainly contact the police and Hampshire Horsewatch is more than willing to listen and guide where it can.
By following a few simple tips, you can help protect your rural property against burglaries. These basic measures needn’t cost a lot of money:
Some more useful advice
If you are considering CCTV, it can only do so much for you – unless you are monitoring it 24/7. Some CCTV will alert you via mobile phone and/or email when it detects movement. These are often the most useful as it will alert you to someone on your premises in live time.
Always report any unusual vehicles or persons in the area to police – with as much detail as possible. To call the Police dial 101 for non emergency calls. Dial 999 in an emergency. Thieves often work across many different counties which can make it hard for police forces to track them.
Your information could be the vital piece that the police require to pursue criminals, gather evidence, arrest and prosecute offenders.
RECORDING YOUR DETAILS: It maybe that you would like to have specific paperwork to record your equine property. Examples of Horse and Equipment Identification documents are available to be downloaded and printed here: