FOLLOWING a dramatic increase in the theft of horse equipment from stables in the Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin areas, West Mercia Police recently backed an innovative event aimed at raising public awareness of the crime.
Tack Theft Awareness was initiated by Telford’s Safer & Stronger Communities Partnership, and took place at Telford Saddlery and Equine Supplies. The event showcased a number of anti-theft devices including the latest in forensic marking products, SelectaDNA.
Organiser PC Fred Jones, Telford Police's Crime Risk Officer, said: "Theft of horse and riding equipment such as saddles, bridle gear, leather harnesses and helmets has been on the increase from the beginning of the year, with 32 incidents reported across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin in the three month period between January-March 2008.
“More than £80,000 worth of equipment has been stolen across the two areas during the past 12 months and on only one occasion has equipment been recovered in relation to an offence. That is why we are so keen to warn the public to be vigilant about this type of theft.”
Over 200 people attended the event and 50 SelectaDNA kits, purchased by Telford police, were given away free on the day. Police helped members of the public permanently mark their riding equipment using the product.
PC Jones said: “SelectaDNA is a revolutionary product that is one of the most secure forensic marking systems available today. It comes in liquid form as a safe, non-toxic water-based adhesive with a unique forensic code.
"Property can be marked with the liquid and it is virtually impossible to remove. Any traces of the liquid will then be shown up under an ultra-violet light and, because of the unique forensic code, the property can then be traced back to its rightful owner. Therefore, it goes without saying that this liquid can also link offenders to specific crimes too.”
PC Jones added: "We would like to warn people against buying riding equipment from someone they do not know or from anyone who is unable to prove where the equipment came from. If anyone does become suspicious about someone who is offering to sell them riding tack, please contact the police so we can investigate whether the property is being sold illegally."
As well as SelectaDNA being on offer on the day, plenty of experts were also on hand to share general crime prevention advice. Members of various Local Policing Teams attended the event alongside Brad Milburn, Telford Police's Anti-Social Behaviour Officer, and members of Telford Police's Neighbourhood Watch and Rural Watch Schemes.
David Wall, Principal Crime Reduction Officer at the Safer & Stronger Communities Partnership, said: "We are grateful to Telford Police and Telford Saddlery for the hard work they have put in to organise this event. This type of crime is not new, and previous experience has shown that initiatives such as marking tack has a positive impact on reducing thefts overall in stables across the Borough.
Mr Wall concluded: "I have no doubts that if the horse and pony community work with us and the police in this initiative it will deter potential thefts from now on."
Anyone with information about any incidents of this nature, anywhere in Shropshire, should call West Mercia Constabulary on 08457 444 888. Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555111.
Tack Theft Awareness event: main contact: PC Fred Jones. Telephone: 08457 444888.
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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