Notice Board at bottom of page - update 06.10.15
Police Scotland occasionally receives calls from concerned horse owners to report that their horses or ponies have unexplained plaits in their manes or tails. In such occasions the horse is otherwise untouched and has come to no harm. The owners are however rightly still concerned.
We have consulted with Horsewatch Scotland who say that they too regularly receive calls and reports of horses and ponies with such plaits and that information was circulating that suggested the horses were being “marked” in some way for theft.
Police Scotland, supported by information from Horsewatch Scotland, has no evidence that these horses or ponies are later stolen. Evidence would suggest that such plaits are “wind plaits” or “wind tangles” that occur naturally especially in longer manes.
In addition, further information on “wind plaits” can be found on the Horsewatch Scotland website, by following the following link http://www.horsewatchscotland.info/crime-prevention
If you are still concerned or want to report any suspicious activity please call 101 for non-emergencies and general enquiries or in an emergency call 999. Alternatively you can pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
You can get further information on how to improve your security in the “Guide to Security in the Rural Environment” which can be found on the Police Scotland website and which has valuable information for all those who live and work in our countryside. http://www.scotland.police.uk/assets/pdf/keep_safe/rural-prevention-booklet
Neighbourhood Watch Scotland are delighted to announce that Fiona Stuart, who in addition to founding Horse Watch Scotland is a Neighbourhood Watch Scotland board member, will be given the Exceptional Achievement Award by The British Horse Society.
The award is for someone who "has triumphed against the odds showing determination, courage and sportsmanship."
Fiona will be presented with the award by British Horse President Martin Clunes at the society's annual awards ceremony in London in November.
If you're interested in receiving alerts from Horse Watch Scotland, consider signing up here
Thousands of pounds worth of horse related equipment is stolen every year. There is a huge market in second hand tack and this encourages thieves to steal the property to get a quick cash return for their troubles.
The tack room and other outbuildings often have poor security standards. This may seem surprising when you consider that the average value of a saddle is around £1,000, or considerably more if it is handmade or made to measure.
Most saddles have their own unique manufacturer’s number but these are rarely recorded by the owner. If saddles and other ancillary equipment are not marked then identifying them is virtually impossible.
Our crime prevention advice can easily, and often cheaply, be used to deter would-be tack thieves.
Yard & Paddock Security
In the majority of cases where animals have been stolen or attacked, the crime was possible because of poor perimeter security.
As with any form of site security, you should start with the perimeter and work your way towards the centre. This is especially relevant with horse crime because it is the safety of the animal which is of paramount importance. The following points should be considered:
Fencing should be seen as the first line of defence. Three of four strands of wire may be enough to stop the animal escaping but it would only take three snips with wire cutters to create an exit wide enough to remove your horse.
The same fence but with sheep netting makes creating the same opening a different proposition. A well made post and rail fence is even better and a fence which incorporates a thick prickly hedge is the ideal.
Gates are often the weakest part of the perimeter and need careful consideration (field gates themselves are valuable and often stolen). The metal variety is more secure.
Gate posts should be securely cemented into the ground. Gate hinges need to have the tops burred over or welded to prevent the gate being lifted off. The gate should be kept padlocked at all times.
A good heavy duty chain (motorcycle security chains can be useful) and the best quality, close shackled padlocks (to resist bolt croppers) should be used.
Alarm equipment designed for the countryside is available and can increase perimeter security. It is particularly useful for gateways, gaps between buildings and paths.
Stables, tack rooms and outbuildings make up the average stable yard that the rural criminal will target. They are targeted because they are often sited in fairly remote locations and are frequently left unattended for long periods.
Most of the above points regarding perimeter security can also be used to the yard. The yard will ideally have its own perimeter protection, including locked gates. Preventing unauthorised people easily entering and leaving a yard will go a long way towards preventing theft or damage.
Stable & Tack Room Security
Stables and/or tack rooms are commonly built of wood, often only a little more robust than a large garden shed. This is a crucial factor to consider when it comes to its security.
Rarely does a brick built stable block get broken into, whereas wooden ones are regularly entered through doors, windows, walls and occasionally even the roof. This does not have to be the case. The following points may prevent it from happening:
The walls and roof of a wooden stable and the tack room in particular can be reinforced by adding a lining a weld mesh or steel reinforcing grid (as used to reinforce cement floors) to the inside.
The lining, in addition to being attached to the walls and roof, should be welded or wired together to form an internal cage. If necessary the mesh can be hidden beneath internal wall cladding. This is surprisingly easy to do and will considerably add to the security of the building.
Windows should be kept to a minimum, particularly in the tack room where, if possible, have no windows at all. Where windows are necessary, the glazing should be of a polycarbonate material or laminated glass. Consideration should be given to fitting grills or bars as added protection.
Doors are the most common entry point into a tack room for the criminal. This is because they are usually secured with poor quality padlocks and a hasp and staple (also known as a pad bar) which is simply screwed into the woodwork and relatively easy to remove.
Ideally the tack room door will be robust enough (a minimum of 44mm thick) to accommodate a five lever mortise lock. When buying a mortise lock always choose one which carries the British Standard 3621 or look for the ‘kite mark’. Aim to have two locks, fitted equal distances from top and bottom.
Where padlocks are used they should be closed shackle type. This is to prevent bolt cropping and they should also be used with a security grade pad bar. This should be attached using long bolts, not wood screws. The bolts need to go through a metal backing plate on the inside of the door and wall.
If the door is outward opening the hinges may be exposed and open to attack. Where this is the case hinge bolts need to be fitted next to each hinge. This is a device designed to stop the door being forced open by removing or damaging the hinges and forcing the door out of the frame on that side.
Remember that any door is only as strong as the frame it is fitted into. You might have to reinforce the frame before you improve the locks. If this is the case, visit a police station and speak to a crime reduction officer or your local locksmith.
Alarms & Lighting
Where possible make full use of modern electronic security aids. Modern alarm systems are reasonably priced – particularly when you compare it with the value of the property it is protecting – they are simple to use, reliable and a proven deterrent against crime.
Alarm systems are used in two ways. The first and cheapest is to use what is called a bells only system, which when activated makes a loud noise in and around the premises to be protected. This often includes flashing lights as well as the sound and relies on the criminal being frightened away by the noise and the fact that anyone hearing it will call the police. In most cases, providing there is someone living within earshot, this is an effective deterrent.
Unfortunately stables are often in remote areas and it is obvious that the alarm will not be heard. Under these circumstances the second kind of alarm should be installed. This is a called remotely monitored system. It is similar to the one described above but is linked to a telephone, mobile phone or radio to a professionally run monitoring station who respond by calling the police should it activate. Due to the costs involved in providing the link to the monitoring station and the annual cost of the monitoring, it is a more expensive option.
There are also do-it-yourself systems available. Some of these can be programmed to transmit an alarm call to designated telephone numbers through a concealed mobile phone and battery. Such systems can be invaluable on sites with no mains power or telephone line.
A trip to a local security specialist or even a home furnishing store will reveal a whole range of equipment. When buying alarm equipment you should ensure that it meets the relevant British Standard BS4737 for professionally installed systems of BS6707 for DIY systems.
While security lighting will not have the same deterrent value of an alarm system it is still a valuable aid to security and will certainly send some would-be thieves elsewhere. On the other hand activations from animals and birds must be expected.
A good lighting system will be made up of powerful halogen lighting units which are activated by a Passive Infrared Detectors (PIR) when movement is detected within the target area. The lights will stay on for a predetermined time before resetting. A photo electric cell prevents the lights activating during daylight. In addition, it is sometimes possible to connect the PIRs to a bell or buzzer which can act as a deterrent during daylight.
PIRs can be incorporated into existing external lighting to produce a similar, if not as startling effect. Security lighting normally requires mains power but other sources such as battery or solar power is available for more isolated sites.
This is a form of branding which permanently marks the animal with a unique code. Unlike the traditional hot brand, this method is far less traumatic for the animal and the end result is usually more visible. This is an excellent visible deterrent against theft and a sure method of identification should the animal be stolen. There are several companies who offer a freeze branding service.
An electronically identifiable tag implanted into the animal by a vet. The tag can be read by scanning the animal with an electronic reader. Several companies offer this service and your local veterinary practice will be able to advise you where to go.
The negative aspect of this kind of tagging is that the reader used by one company will not detect a tag used by another company and the police will not have direct access to a reader.
This is a method of branding a postcode into the front of your horse’s hooves. This can act as a deterrent and a means of identification. It is easily carried out by your farrier two or three times a year.
Branding irons need to be tailor made. The negative side is that they are not always visible, the hooves invariably being covered in mud and as the hoof grows it needs re-branding.
Photographs and Records
Good photographs of a horse will always help to recover it if it is stolen. Photographs should be clear and show details of colour patterns and an idea of height. It may be necessary to keep more than one photograph.
A diagrammatic record of the animal should also be kept which will show details of relevant marks such as head, neck and other whorls, acquired marks and scars.
There are many products on the market that offer security for tack. This can be either physical marking such as post-coding, target hardening such as locking the saddle to its rack or by target removal, such as hiding or locking it out of sight.
The simplest method is to have the tack post-coded. This involves stamping the postcode, along with the house number or initials of the name, into the leather. Metal items can be engraved with the same details. This can be done by arrangement with the local police station. It is also possible to have saddles electronically tagged but this can be problematic due to the amount of companies offering the service.
There are several devices available which physically lock the saddle to its rack in the tack room. These are a good deterrent, particularly if the tack room itself is secure. Additionally tack safes are available. These are made from galvanised steel and can be bolted to a wall or inside a horsebox.
Wheel clamps are a good cost effective way to secure your trailer when left overnight. They are widely available from a variety of motoring retailers or caravan outlets.
Tow Hitch Locks
These are another cost effective deterrent and again they are widely available.
Post coding the chassis and other metal parts of a horsebox or trailer is a simple and cheap method of identification. This can be done with the same stamping equipment that most police stations use to code pedal cycles.
Dumfries and Galloway HorseWatch
Police Scotland Dumfries and Galloway
Crime Prevention Officers dail 101 and
Ask for officer who covers your area
Lockerbie Police have received a report that between 1630 hours 05.10.15 and 0900 hours 06.10.15, two horses in the Hightae area have had their mane’s plaited.
Police are requesting that owners of horses are vigilant, report similar incidents and any suspicious persons to there local Police Station or 101.
An old gelding pony(alive) has been deposited in a field near Crocketford recently. Do you know anything about it? If so contact Stewartry police on 101
PLEASE SLOW DOWN FOR HORSES! Horse riders are one of the vulnerable groups of road users you may come across on our rural roads. Horses are animals – not machines. They may react at any time – becoming ’spooked’ - whether from something moving in the verge, or by an inconsiderate driver revving an engine or passing too closely. Pass horses WIDE and SLOW and give them room.
Horse Riders – get kitted out in HI-VIZ clothing (and don’t forget the horse) and make yourself visible to drivers. Studies show that HI-VIZ can give a driver an extra 3 seconds reaction time. This WILL make a difference, and remember, be courteous to considerate drivers.