How to be a legal horse thief

How to be a legal horse thief

20 January 2012

horsethiefc160978_l.jpgI am going to tell you how to steal your horse legally. Also as always, I am not trying to give anyone legal advice, merely information. When a major question arises, you should always contact your attorney for proper legal advice.

Yes, there are legal ways to steal a horse. Everyone does this type of business, and if you sell horses, you are a potential victim. Here’s how it works: you sell a horse; a person gives you a down payment, and leaves with the horse. All of a sudden you never hear from them again and you never get the rest of your money.

Guess what? In many states, this is not a crime. You entered into a purchase agreement with the buyer, a civil matter. Many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will not file a criminal charge just because the person violated your agreement. Of course, it all depends where you live or the independent agency involved, but you always run the risk.

Once you willingly enter a purchase agreement, it is extremely difficult for law enforcement to determine if there was any motive to defraud. Furthermore, if the purchaser lives a distance away or out of state, it is unlikely they will be able to go to the purchaser to discover any intent to defraud. Most agencies simply cannot afford to send personnel a great distance to learn if a crime has been committed when the alleged crime involves property. Why? Part of the reason is the cost to tax payers. In cases of homicide or aggravated crime, taxpayers generally have no problem with the cost to pursue an investigation. Even though I enjoy animals greatly, in a case of horse theft, I would be a bit leery about sending an officer to investigate, simply because of the cost to the taxpayer.

Now, some jurisdictions may tell you to just go get the horse, because it is a civil issue. Law enforcement cannot help you, but it is not illegal for you to retrieve your property. However, never do this without speaking to a Prosecutor, District Attorney or private attorney. Get some legal advice. I suggest a private attorney, not because the others are not good, but merely due to the time involved. Certainly, you have to pay the attorney, so it’s up to you just how far you want to go. Remember, though, that if an attorney informs you of the laws for your state and you track the buyer with your animal to another state, the laws may not apply. Why not? Laws very from state to state. In some states, if you go onto another person’s property to retrieve your animal, you may face criminal charges of trespassing, theft, or worse!

The best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of legal horse theft is to avoid putting yourself at risk of a scam. If you do, don’t expect a lot of assistance from law enforcement. You could be disappointed. I have seen legal horse thefts happen here in Ohio, and although it certainly is wrong, it is very tough to prove.

Here are some tips that you can use.

  1. When you sell your horse, have a private attorney draw up your sale contract. With a valid contract, you are in a better position in a civil lawsuit than you are without one.
  2. When the buyer offers to purchase your horse, insist on full payment up front. If you must accept a partial payment, insist on at least half of the agreed amount. If the buyer cannot afford half the payment up front, they probably cannot afford to feed and care for the horse. Naturally, there are always exceptions, so you’ll have to rely on your own good judgment. If the buyer wants to make payments to you for the animal and you are comfortable with the arrangement, fine.
  3. As long as space is not an issue, keep the animal on your property until the bill is paid in full. A buyer is unlikely to skip the bill on you if you still have the horse. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Your attorney can make amendments to your to cover feed bills and other expenses, and limitation of any liability.

More tips:

  1. Seek legal advice and have a contract drawn up.
  2. Control when the animal may be removed from your possession.
  3. Get names, addresses, and primary and secondary phone numbers of the buyer(s) involved.
  4. Ask to see the buyer’s driver’s license or other picture identification.

I know from experience that some folks sell a animal on payments and have nothing but the buyer’s name. How can you tell Law Enforcement if this is even a correct name? How are the officers supposed to know where to look for the buyer if all you can give them is a name?

The fact is, a lot of people have the same name. It’s faster and easier to track someone down with more information. It’s important to be able to provide all the information you can, especially if there’s a possibility that a criminal case can be built.

So, friends, be responsible, be smart, and don’t be a victim.

Of course all of this is my humble point of view, but I hope you’ll find something helpful here. Please direct any comments to Debi through her site. So, until another matter comes up for discussion,

Ride straight and ride tall.


Note: The Horse Soldier is a law enforcement officer in the United States that works with horse theft cases but does not wish to be named due to his position in law enforcement.

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