Theft Prevention at Horse Shows by Tina Langness

Tina LangnessWhat deters a thief from stealing from one person vs. the other?

I have a few ideas for you to protect yourself and your property while at shows or other horse related functions.  As I have first-hand experience having cash stolen from my tack stalls as well as someone breaking into my horse trailer and stealing everything.

The first myth is horse people do not steal from horse people. This is completely false and everyone must be treated on the same level playing field. I hate to be pessimistic but I’ve learned the hard way and anyone, including your own clients can steal from you. It’s sad but true but I can also say I’ve recovered some of my items at tack swaps, on EBay, tack trader sights, shows, etc.

The second myth is people will only steal what’s left out in the open, unlocked, etc. If someone wants to steal your stuff they will, plain and simple.

Many thieves will come to your horse event not knowing anything about horses. However, others do this for a living and most are ex-horse people.

There is currently a theft ring authorities are allegedly trying to bring down. It’s a one-man operation that has been stealing from horse events since 2008. He’s an ex-horse trainer who literally makes a living going from event to event. He’s been photographed coming into an event dressed as a horse person and looks very unassuming. He’s so good he’s been caught with horse show premium books in his car going show to show knowing dates and times, exhibitor names, etc. He literally knows when you are leaving your stall for classes and that’s when he strikes. He has no interest in your credit cards, ID’s, etc. Only cash, even your coins! He will often time take wallets and purses and discard them in corners, bathrooms, behind hay, etc. He travels around the country and has been photographed as far North as MN, down to OK and TX and to the perimeters of the East and West.

Here are a few suggestions to protect your valuables –

1)    Be aware of your surroundings and who’s in them.

2)    Lock tack stalls and dressing room stalls. Thieves can still climb over the tops of your stalls, but locks may deter them to find stalls that are not locked.

3)    If you are at event for an extended time, bring a lockable storage cabinet, trunk, etc. to lock up valuables. These take more time to break into, special tools and are typically too tedious and heavy for a thief to run off with.

4)    Know when you will be away from your stalls and who will stay behind. Encourage everyone to be vigilant and locking stalls while gone.

5)    Hire a night watchman to keep an eye on your horses and your tack stalls.

6)    Keep tack areas and dressing rooms well lit.

7)    Do not leave valuables in plain sight such as cell phones, laptops, purses, makeup bags, etc.

8)    Dogs work as great protectors and you will see them left behind in areas of value to protect from thieves.

Know what you have and take pictures of your items while at home and if able, at the shows.

9)    Post signs stating your stalls are under video surveillance.

Use “Stall Watch”, security cameras or other types of surveillance to keep watch. I know several people that have set up their cell phones, iPads, cameras, etc. to keep an eye on things while away.

10) Cable and lock all valuable saddles and other precious items together.

11) Put your name or initials on everything! I use a small engraver tools and use it on leather, bits, spurs, saddles, etc. to mark my tack in the event I have to identify and prove it’s mine. You typically cannot see where you have engraved, if kept small and in a discrete place. This has SAVED me!

12) Keep track of serial numbers on expensive items.

13) Install trailer hitch locks and lock spare tires and batteries.

14) Make sure all trailer windows and doors are locked before leaving unattended.

15) If you haul expensive items such as show saddles, headstalls, trunks, décor, etc. of substantial value take photos.

16) Notify security and your neighbors of suspicious activity.

17) VERY IMPORTANT! Contact your insurance company to make sure you are aware of your policy limitations and if items stolen are covered while ON or OFF your property! If you have big-ticket items your insurance company may require photos, receipts, or additional coverage for such items. Coming up in my next article I will go into insurance a bit further.

Cowgirl Logic:

“A thief passes as a gentleman when stealing has made him rich.”

Celebrate Your Horse!



Joyce Ferreiro



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