Stables are easy targets for thieves
Rural crime costs farmers and countryside dwellers an estimated £50 million in stolen stock, machinery and valuables.
But when it comes easy targets, it is the owners of stables that can suffer the most from burglaries and break-ins.
Stables may not only house valuable livestock they are also often used to store expensive riding gear.
Police warn that rural crime has risen in almost every part of the UK. The farming insurance company NFU Mutual warns of a 12% rise in rural crime over the past two years.
Stretched rural police teams are required to cover large and isolated and thinly populated countryside areas.
It's a situation that provides criminals with big opportunities and easy targets. Thieves can move under cover of darkness, well away from lights and people.
There are many ways you can improve security at horse stables and help deter would-be thieves from making off with valuable property.
Popular security measures taken out on farm buildings such as stables include fitting strong locks, installing CCTV and blocking access.
Here are a few security measures you can take to help keep your horse stables safe from unwanted intruders.
Horse owners often house horses and equipment in the same stables. It makes sense to keep saddles and other riding equipment close the horses where they can be easily accessed. But it's vital to ensure that high-value tack is kept under lock and key. It's not just a case of having string doors. Windows are a popular point of entry for thieves so it can be a good idea to fix strong bars to all your tack room windows. This is where a security professional can make all the difference. Security experts can carry out a proper assessment of the stables and recommend appropriate locks, bolts and door fittings.
Police advise horse owners to put some sort of identifying marks on all equipment. Thieves will be deterred from stealing tack that can be easily traced back to its original owner. Police advice is to engrave or punch postcodes into tack to provide proof of ownership. DIY stores sell the kit to do this yourself, you can search online or often find tack-marking services on offer at local horse shows.
It's a good idea to perform regular check-ups to make sure your tack room is fully secure. Rotten window frames, loose doors, rusty locks and rattling bolts are all welcome signs for an opportunistic thief. It is important to check nearby gates and fences as well. Thieves will usually need a vehicle to take stolen goods away quickly so don't give them a chance to drive their vehicle close to the premises.
Bell ringing alarms are of limited use in the thinly populated countryside but there are many sophisticated wireless security systems now available on the market. They can warn you by phone or text that an alarm has been activated. Response alarms can link to remote 24-hour monitoring services.
Stables ate often sited some distance away from houses so a conventional security alarm can be of limited value. Sensor activated lighting and a CCTV system is more expensive to install but can be a highly effective deterrent. Thieves will not want to be caught on camera in the act of loading up stolen livestock or valuable equipment. Security cameras can not only identify criminals they can also be used to keep an eye on animals. Modern solar-powered CCTV is extremely efficient and kits can be solar-powered or run off a 12-volt battery with a live view straight to your mobile phone or tablet.
There are a number of ways to identity-mark your horse or only. Livestock can be freeze or hoof-marked and even micro-chipped with details stores on a national database. Each year horses, ponies and equipment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds are stolen across the UK.