DENVER — The situation looked normal: A man hitched an empty trailer to a pickup truck and drove off from a snow-covered horse farm in Longmont.
"The driver actually got out and came around and spoke to our barn help, told him he was there to pick up the trailer and they were taking it to get new tires, so it sounded like a very plausible story," said Andrea Ritzer, the trailer's owner.
It turned out the story was a lie. In fact, the man was stealing the $25,000 trailer.
Ritzer, who keeps her horse at the farm, said she was deeply disturbed when she heard what happened.
"It was really surprising and just a huge violation of our collective community's trust," Ritzer said. "To have someone come in and violate that trust has really shaken the community."
It's not just the trailer incident.
"It's super upsetting," said Una Schade, a horse farm owner in Castle Rock who runs the website Colorado Horse Forum.
Schade said there have been dozens of thefts over the past few months at horse farms all across the Front Range, many of which have been hit several times.
Most of the thefts have been from the vehicles of people who had parked at farms and were riding or tending to their horses.
"Jewelry from vehicles, not just purses, anything of any value that they think they can pawn off real quick or just get some money," Schade said.
Schade said that many farm owners are installing surveillance systems in response to the rash of thefts. She said she's optimistic that the added security will provide some much-needed help.
"The community thinks equestrians have a lot of money when, in reality, we don't necessarily," she said. "We spend any free money we have on our horses, so it's detrimental to the equine community."
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