WARNING FOR FARM OWNERS IN PA - Horse and Farm Theft Protection Tips

WARNING FOR FARM OWNERS IN PA - Horse and Farm Theft Protection Tips

20 September 2020

 

The theft of horses is incredibly popular in the United States, and are crimes that are as old as the ‘old west’ days. 

Have you ever had anyone stop by your farm and ask questions about your horses? If so, did you proudly tell the visitor about your horses or did your spidey senses tell you something may be wrong with this picture? 

In 1997 our founder had someone stop by her farm, a woman and a child, who appeared to be admiring the pretty horses in the pasture. Debi Metcalfe and her husband Harold were standing by the gate when the car stopped. They were only too happy to share information about their horses just like many proud horse ‘parents’ would do. 

The next week, September 26, 1997, their horse Idaho was stolen from that same pasture on the farm. Idaho was gone for 51 weeks before the Metcalfes found her. The thief, a man from Valdese, NC was found six months after the theft which led to Idaho’s recovery in Etowah, Tennessee on September 17, 1998. 

Debi Metcalfe says, “Looking back, we have always wondered if the people who stopped that day and asked so many questions were involved in Idaho’s theft. There is no proof but the circumstances could be linked even if we can’t prove it. Either way, Harold and I wish we had given this more attention at the time. Maybe it could have prevented Idaho’s theft.” 

Stolen Horse International has received information about a similar suspicious event in Pennsylvania recently.  This may be just someone looking for a product for their business or it could be that someone is casing the farm for a future theft. Either way, if something like this has happened to you, pay attention. 

Jessica Forliano, a trainer at Forliano Farm at Quarry Valley posted this today on her Facebook page as a warning to horse owners in the area just in case these acts were something other than random. 

I am posting this as a PSA to local horse farm owners. I had two very unusual visitors at the farm the past few days and it was definitely alarming. The police have been contacted on both occasions and are doing additional patrols of the farm and area. However, it was brought to my attention by a retired sheriff that a PSA would also be a good idea to inform the horse community. 

A gentleman in a white compact Mazda SUV asked if the horses are available as meat and if we butcher. I was astonished and said he was absolutely crazy. However, as the man drove away, he was stopping and looking at the horses on his way out. The second visitor, driving a tan late-model Subaru sedan and wearing very worn and tattered clothing, was also suspiciously asking questions about the farm and the horses. Almost as if he was casing the farm. 

The behavior of these two gentlemen was very uneasy and suspicious. I have heard of horses being stolen and gone missing and this made me very uneasy.

I am not trying to cause panic, but want to alert the horse public in case a similar situation happens nearby. I hope I am not overreacting and if so I will absolutely take ownership. Thank you for reading and sharing. 

Metcalfe contacted Jessica to get more information about this incident and this is what we learned. 

There were two men at different times stopping by the farm asking questions. The man that drove the white Mazda SUV compact car is described as thin, possibly from the middle eastern background who spoke with a thick accent and had a thick black beard. He, like the woman who visited the Metcalfe’s in 1997, had a little girl dressed in pink in the car. 

Jessica told Metcalfe “He asked if we butchered for meat or if the horses were just to look at. We filed with Buckingham Township Police,” 

The second man was seen on a different date by the farm owner. At this time Stolen Horse International has not been able to interview the owner even though a request to do so has been made. Hopefully, we will have more information later. 

Jessica described the man as someone who looked ‘homeless’ and someone who did not fit in the area where the boarding farm is located. 

Jessica had this to add at the end of her interview, “Thank you so much for reaching out. It helps to know people who have experience with this are out there to guide the way.” 

If this happens to you, what can you do about it? 

Metcalfe says, “There are many solutions, from high-tech gadgetry to watchful neighbors. But first, you have to educate yourself and, most of all, don’t ever think it can’t happen to you.” 

Horse and Farm Protection Tips

Here are a few tips that will help you get started with a program to protect your horses and your farm. 

  • Put warning signs up to ward off intruders.
  • Start a neighborhood “farm watch” in your community.
  • Start a farm watch program with fellow boarders at boarding facilities.
  • Notify close neighbors and friends when you leave by sending a “horse sitter” type of list to them by email.
  • Do not leave home for extended periods without having someone stay on your property.
  • Bolt your gates.
  • Put up motion lighting as well as a farm light on the property.
  • Add animal alarms to your farm like barking dogs, guineas, donkeys, peacocks, etc.
  • Add video cameras or deer cam surveillance to your property.
  • Add a driveway alarm that will notify you when vehicles enter your property.
  • Install a fence monitor with a local alarm company that will send notifications if it detects a break, power loss, or short in the fence.
  • ID your horses with visible ID as well as a microchip number. One may deter the thieves from your property and the other can ID your horse if the worst happens.
  • Keep detailed records and photos on file. You can do this online through the NetPosse ID all equine ID and record-keeping registry.
  • Move horses closer to your house when sleeping and away from roads or easy entry to your property.
  • Remove bushes or equipment that may act as a protective cover for someone on your property.
  • Report suspicious activity to law enforcement. Make sure you get tag numbers from vehicles. Use the cell phone to record pictures of vehicles, tags, and people. 
  • As a seller, make sure you qualify the person asking questions before you allow them on your farm.

 In summary, there is no way to know for sure if these incidents were preludes to possible misdoings in the future. But, do you want to ignore the signs and take a chance that you, like many of our victims, will look out at an empty pasture one day, or do you want to be proactive and do your best to protect your horses today? 

“We hope that this article helps horse owners become more aware of their surroundings and the things that go ‘bump’ not just in the night but in broad daylight too,” says Metcalfe. 

Feel free to comment in the comment section at the bottom of this page. We want to hear what you think.

 

 

 

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Debi Metcalfe

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