Calgary police have apprehended the thief who stole an estimated $40,000 worth of tack in Calgary, Alberta, on May 24.
The perpetrator is now in jail pending investigation after responding to an ad posted on Facebook seeking a used saddle for sale.
“I had posted the list [of stolen saddles] anywhere I possibly could, especially on used tack Facebook boards,” said Katie Macleod, who was one of the tack thief's victims. “A local rider in Calgary put up an ad saying she was looking for a saddle, and the thief answered her ad on the same page I had put the list up saying she had some saddles for sale. Not very smart!
“The girl had seen my post and contacted me saying that she’d been offered what she thought was one of our saddles,” she continued. “She sent me the picture she received of the saddle asking me if it was mine, and it was! It had my crappy leathers on this nice, new Voltaire saddle. They didn’t even change the leathers!”
Many of Macleod’s barnmates recognized the thief’s name as a local rider who'd previously ridden at Macleod’s farm when it was under different ownership and who knew the ins and outs of the barn. But police suspect this wasn’t an isolated incident.
“In the picture this girl sent you can see saddles sitting against boxes full of bridles in the background,” said Macleod. “We think she might have had accomplices, and they’ve stolen more than just our tack.”
Macleod took it upon herself to catch the thief red-handed, pretending to be interested in purchasing a saddle posted for sale on Kijiji, the Canadian version of Craigslist.
“We just kind of did a set up and had a friend of mine ask this girl to meet us at my friend’s property to see the saddle. She had four of our saddles with her. The police showed up the minute she did and cuffed her and put her in the back of the cop car,” said Macleod. “That night they raided her house and took every piece of tack out of her garage. They said that they recovered 10 saddles in total and a bunch of other tack.”
Macleod and her barnmates are now working with the Calgary police to reclaim their stolen saddles after weeks of sharing borrowed tack and making insurance claims.
“You don’t really ever expect something like this to happen to you,” said Macleod. “It was a rough couple of weeks. A lot of us got set back a little bit in our riding, myself included. We had two loaner saddles from some generous people in the area, but there were 15 of us, so we had to pass them around and schedule lessons at odd times.
“At this point most of us have our insurance payouts, so now it’s not as much about getting the tack back so we can ride our horses again; we just want this girl to go to jail,” she continued. “I’m actually thankful she wasn’t very smart about it all; if she had gone about it differently, she probably would’ve gotten away with it.”