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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Fears over horse crime spur Cumbria police into action

A CRACKDOWN on equestrian rural crime in Cumbria has been announced to deter horse and tack thieves.

Cumbria Horsewatch was launched at Bigland Hall Riding Centre near Haverthwaite yesterday.

The scheme has been set up by Nigel Sutcliffe, a Special Constabulary volunteer, and aims to provide a united front against criminals.

He said: “Equine crime levels in Cumbria are low but they are on the increase. We need people to share information so everyone can be kept informed.”

People who join Horsewatch will gain access to information, such as an incident and crime alerts and specific crime prevention advice. The scheme will be administered through Cumbria Community Messaging.

Andrew Clarke has first-hand experience of the effects of horse crime. Last year he had more than £3,000 of tack and power tools stolen from his family’s stable and cellar in Backbarrow.

The 17-year-old said: “I was absolutely devastated when I found out. I had saved up for a long time to buy expensive show tack and had only had it a year.”

His family believe they were being watched as they kept the tack in different places from time to time.

Mr Clarke added: “They must have seen me take it back to the cellar. During the night they cut around the big locks we had.”

Sergeant John Stephens said: “A lot of people travel into Cumbria to commit crime. In the past we have recovered stolen property in other counties.”

Terry Belshaw, a crime prevention design adviser in south Cumbria, said better security would deter and prevent thieves from targeting owners’ property.

He is one of six advisers in the county who will be visiting equestrian centres and advising people for free.

Bigland Hall Riding Centre owner, Sheelagh Myers said they had been lucky and had not been targeted by thieves. She added: “We are pretty safe up here. Our tack rooms are alarmed and we have staff living on site.”

Email nigel .sutcliffe@cumbria.police.uk for more information.

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