Crucial Steps for Responding to Horse Theft

Crucial Steps for Responding to Horse Theft


Every year, a significant number of equines are illicitly taken across the nation through various methods. The crucial time frame for the recovery of a missing horse typically falls within the initial 24 to 48 hours of the disappearance. This underscores the acute necessity for prompt and decisive action. 

What Defines A Criminal Theft

The characteristic indicators of theft include evidentiary signs such as opened gates, tire tracks and hoof prints, missing tack or trailers, a cut fence or boards removed, and items left behind by the perpetrators. 

In the case of theft, the owner does not provide authorization for the removal of the horse from the premises in any form. 

My Horse Is Gone. What do I do? 

In the event that one's horse may have been stolen or escaped, a thorough search of the property and its vicinity is recommended. Engaging the services of a pilot with a thermal drone or a tracking dog can be beneficial in verifying the absence of the horse. 

Simultaneously, when conducting the search, reporting the potentially stolen horse to local authorities is advised, particularly if the presence of incriminating clues suggests foul play, such as opened gates, tire tracks and hoof prints, missing tack or trailers, a cut fence or removed boards, and remnants left behind by the perpetrators. 

The initial steps are pivotal in confirming the owner's rights and engaging the support of law enforcement to treat the case as a criminal offense. The ensuing measures are crucial to commence the process. 

It is imperative to promptly report the theft, providing a detailed description of the horse's markings and furnishing proof of ownership documents to facilitate its identification. 

Expert Help Is Available

Moreover, filing a report with Stolen Horse International, also known as NetPosse, and submitting a report at are highly recommended. 

Stolen Horse International is recognized as a Section 501(c)(3) organization with 27 years of experience in aiding victims in diverse situations. It is also the home of the NetPosse Alert, often referred to as the equine industry's "Amber Alert." 

The report encompasses a web page with images, a narrative of the incident and the horse, and a PDF flyer that is accessible for download, printing, and public distribution worldwide. 

Following the filing of the report, disseminating the NetPosse Alert across all social media platforms is essential. 

Emphasizing the public distribution of the flyer is crucial, as not all individuals have internet access, and a limited audience may encounter the information on social media platforms. The flyer assumes a pivotal role in the quest to locate the missing horse. 

Utilizing a myriad of public platforms, such as Craig's List and the Nextdoor app, is advisable. However, it is essential to remain vigilant against potential scammers and exercise discernment in appraising any leads. Prefacing all financial transactions with tipsters, a consultation with law enforcement or Stolen Horse International is strongly recommended. 

Horse Theft or Civil Situation

It is imperative to note that not all instances of a horse's disappearance are attributable to theft. This distinction is crucial in understanding the legal and law enforcement response to the situation. 

In contrast to theft, a civil matter is defined as a disagreement between two individuals. In other words, civil theft occurs when an individual with lawful access to the horse removes or sells it without consent. It may not always be apparent to the owner that an individual who possesses and sells their horse without consent has not, essentially, stolen it by the definition of law. 

Should law enforcement determine the case to be civil, whether rightfully or not, they will abstain from treating it as a criminal act. This differentiation holds substantial importance as it influences the legal and law enforcement handling of the case. 

The aforementioned guidelines serve as a compass to initiate the pursuit of the missing horse. The scope of actions available is extensive. Readers are encouraged to contribute additional steps in the comments section below this article. 

About the author: Debi Metcalfe, herself a victim of equine theft, holds the esteemed position of president and founder of Stolen Horse International, also known as NetPosse. With nearly three decades of experience, she has served as a beacon of guidance for countless victims, offering her expertise and empathy to those in distress.

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