Sgt Stuart Granger works within North Yorkshire’s specialist rural Taskforce, tackling and preventing rural, agricultural, equine-related and wildlife-related crime. We put the above question to him, here’s his advice:
This is a sticky situation for the buyer, as there’s very little you can do beyond checking the tack for any markings that can’t be explained by the seller.
Checking saddles for chips or SmartWater marks that fluoresce under UV light is something police can do if an item is suspected stolen.
However, that’s not much use to a buyer who has already paid for the item – it will be taken from you and you’ll be left out of pocket.
Sadly, it’s the age-old thing of ‘buyer beware’. Stick to reputable tack dealers, and if you do buy from someone online, arrange to meet them at their shop or yard where you can see the set-up and gauge the situation.
If it seems too good to be true, or you feel at all uncomfortable, don’t go ahead with the purchase.
Keeping your tack safe
Make your tack less appealing to thieves by marking it. Dot Peen marking can make tack less attractive to take, as well as more identifiable.
A Dot Peen machine can be used on a variety of materials, including leather and metal, and it hammers a symbol, word, or number of your choice onto your belongings.
Some police forces offer Dot Peen marking free of charge to livery yards, or at Pony Club/riding club events. Call your local force on 101 to see if this is available in your area.
Also keeping an inventory of all your tack, including photographs and descriptions, will help to make possessions more identifiable, and can help users of social media to keep a lookout too.
Local websites and forums, WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages can help equestrian and rural communities to stay safe, so consider using them to keep abreast of what’s going on in your area. It’s amazing how useful they can be to the police when investigating a crime too.
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