Australia - March 28, 2013 5:00 - HORSE owners at Veteran have been warned their animals are in danger.And two worried horse owners in the area yesterday warned other parts of the region could be facing a similar threat.
Yesterday, they told of their alarm at what appears to be a horse stealing scam, using the RSPCA as a cover for the removal of animals from private property.
Rachel Gadischke said horses she co-owns appeared to be the subject of a theft attempt, in which a man driving a white sedan claimed one of the horses was very sick and used a neighbour's phone to call the RSPCA.
Ms Gadischke said the problem was that the man, who claimed to be a horse expert, did not appear to realise the animal's symptoms were a result of a recent operation.
He also claimed the horses belonged to someone he knew, meaning the horses could be picked up by that person and stolen.
"Once a horse is taken from the property where it is known, there is every chance it will never be returned," she said.
"The young colt had only been gelded a few days earlier and had had an operation to remove scarcoids (growths) from his neck.
"Any genuine horse owner knows that swelling and fluid build-up are caused from having such an operation.
"I felt sick to the stomach at the thought of someone staking out a paddock with the intention of stealing horses.
"The problem is once a person removes a horse from their paddock with the intention of theft it would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
"Our horses are registered and branded to prove ownership and breeding, but once a horse is stolen very often they are never seen again."
She said she and co-owner Angela Stewart wanted to warn other horse owners in the Gympie and surrounding area about the suspected horse thief.
"People need to be extra careful and keep a close eye on their paddocks," Ms Gadischke said.
"If possible they should lock any gates."
She said she had contacted the RSPCA in an attempt to identify the man who made the report and also made a complaint to the police, to make them aware of what happened.
"I'm still waiting for a response from them," she said.
"We take great pride in our horses and if anything happened to them it would be more than money.
"It's not something we would be able to cope with, nor would most horse owners."
RESOURCE: Gympie Times, Authur Gorrie, http://www.gympietimes.com.au/news/horse-thief-scam-alert-owners-warned-theft/1809496/