It’s a huge source of anxiety for horse owners when spates of yard burglaries seem to be taking place. However, take some comfort from the fact that actual horse theft is far less common than you might think, says Sgt Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire’s specialist rural police taskforce.

While general horse theft does occur occasionally, theft of tack is much more common, but there are a number of sensible measures you can take to make your yard safer.

Layers of an onion

Treat your yard’s security like layers of an onion, starting with fences and boundaries.

You need to make it as hard as possible for strange vehicles to gain access as it’s much harder to steal animals or heavy valuables if transport isn’t close by, ready to be loaded.

It goes without saying that all fencing, doors and gates should be 100% secure, and gravel drives can be a very useful auditory deterrent.

Gates should actually be locked. Buy anti-lift locks or weld gate pins so that gates can’t be lifted off their hinges even when padlocked.

A determined thief will come in through any weak point of a building, including roofs, skylights and windows, so fitting metal bars to areas like this can help.

Your tack room ideally needs to be ‘armour-plated’. Brick or concrete walls and heavy duty mortice locks are advisable – indeed anything less than this may invalidate your insurance.

If your yard facilities don’t include this, check whether there’s at least an alarm and/or CCTV system, and that areas are well lit with security lights.

If you have CCTV, it’s advisable to film the entrances to the property to catch strange vehicles’ number plates.

CCTV cameras are much cheaper these days and many operate using wifi, so if wiring in a camera system is putting you off, there’s now a way around this.

Make sure that cameras are placed well out of reach – even to someone holding a yard brush!

Thieves will grab anything to hand to push the camera away from their activities. They might also spray them with paint to obscure the picture.

Fake it ‘til you make it

If CCTV cameras or other security measures are out of your price range right now, try fitting some dummy cameras instead, or displaying signs about the presence of concealed cameras on the yard.

Mark your territory

Freezemarked horses are visibly more difficult for thieves to sell on as it’s obvious that they can be identified, but freeze marking and microchipping also allows vets, abattoirs and dealers to discover whether an animal has been rightfully sold on.

Painting distinguishing marks onto trailers makes it much easier for police to spot them if the theft is reported early on.

Painting the postcode on the roof is a useful tactic, but never have the address of where the trailer is kept on the vehicle as this will tell thieves where something that has caught their eye can be found.

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