A COUPLE have hit out at the “scum” who stole their £10,000 horse box and then set fire to the
A COUPLE have hit out at the “scum” who stole their £10,000 horse box and then set fire to the lorry chassis.
Sarah and Roger Edmunds discovered their stable yard near Goring had been broken into when they went to visit their horses.
The six animals had escaped from their field to one next doorÂ after theÂ thieves cut through severalÂ fences, including an electric one and another made of barbed wire.
The V-reg DAF lorry, which incorporated the Luton-style horse box, was missing and the couple found the steering and ignition locks had been discarded.
The thieves had driven off in it along a narrow track before cutting across a neighbouring field towards the village centre.
Two days later, the burned-out wreckage of the chassis and cab was found off a section of the Ridgeway near Aldworth, more than a mile from the nearest road.
Several of the Edmunds’s personal possessions had been piled up on the front seat before the vehicle was set alight.
The horse box, which the couple spent four years restoring and improving, has not yet been found. It can carry up to three horses at a time and has accommodation for two people, including a kitchen area with a stove.
The Edmundses, who live near Woodcote, used it when competing in side saddleÂ and cross-country events around the country.
Mrs Edmunds said they arrived at the stable yard just before 7am on Tuesday last week to discover the thieves had struck during the night.
“We could see the horses were out so we knew something was wrong and then we saw the truck had gone,” she said. “The thieves had come in through a blind spot on our CCTV so there was nothing on the cameras.
“It’s quite frightening because they must have been watching us and canvassing the place in advance. It feels like a personal invasion.
“The theft had clearly been very recent as the horses hadn’t strayed too far but I dread to think what could have happened.
“One of them is on a controlled diet due to diabetes and had started eating too much rich grass while another two were fighting.
“Another was so stressed that it developed colic, which can be fatal. They’re all okay now but the thieves didn’t care aboutÂ their wellbeing.”
A member of the public found the burnt-out lorry two days later and contacted the couple, who went to identify it. Mrs Edmunds said: “It was a long way from anywhere so the thieves obviously knew the area well.
“They set fire to easily £1,000 worth of horse kit, which was a real blow. They clearlyÂ had no knowledge of its resale value.
“We still haven’t found the container but it’s got so many distinctive features that I could easily identify it.
“Fortunately, the horse community is a close-knit one and others have let usÂ use their vehicles for the finalÂ events of the year.
“It isn’t worth much in the grand scheme of things but restoring it was a labour of love and it meant a lot to us. You can’t put a price on that.
“We’ll have to replace it and increase our security as we can’t sit out there with a shotgun every night.
“I’m just appalled at the lack of respect. If I see something I want, I save up for it rather than destroying other people’s property.”
Mr Edmunds said: “I’m incredibly angry, not just at the theft itself but the total disregard for our livestock and possessions.
“They clearly didn’t care about anything beyond taking the vehicle by any means. Hopefully by publicising this we can make it impossible for them to sell the horse box.”
Police are investigating the theft and have carried out house to house enquiries. It is understood they are pursuing several leads and believe the thieves may live in the area.
They are also appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.
The horse box had a red frame with metal panels and five windows, four with bars, on each side. The lorry registration plate was V726 HEB.
Anyone with information should call Thames Valley Police on the non-emergency number, 101.