A horse had to be put down after burglars tipped a 20kg sack of carrots into its stall as they searched for items to steal from stables in Leeds.
The criminals left the livery yard with feed worth only a few hundred pounds but their attempt to stop Kamara making any noise that might give them away went on to cost the young cob its life.
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Owner Francesca Maples has also been left owing more than £3,000 to vets after they tried in vain to save Kamara.
Her dad, Darren Maples, said: “The people who have come in to do this just don’t care. They have no remorse, no morals. My frustration is that through a lack of decency an animal has had to die and a young girl pay dearly. She has lost the one thing she cared for most, for nothing but their greed.”
Springfield Equestrian’s livery yard in Horsforth had been targeted once before back in September, so horse owners were taking great care to leave nothing valuable on site.
When burglars struck again overnight on January 18, they got away with little more than some feed after searching all the stables and breaking into a locked storage container.
It is thought that Kamara was disturbed and began to make a noise, so the burglars threw in the carrots as a distraction.
By the time 23-year-old Francesca, a stable hand at the yard, arrived early the next day to tend to her own two horses, Kamara was already desperately ill from the sugar contained in such a high volume of carrots.
“Something just wasn’t right with her at all,” Francesca said. “She was quiet and lethargic. She had a lot of swelling to her head and chest. You feed horses to carrots constantly but in that quantity it is so dangerous.”
Urgent treatment initially appeared to have worked, but Kamara’s condition soon deteriorated again and Francesca had to take the difficult decision to put her down on February 10.
“I had had Kamara since she was 16 months old,” she said. “I’ve done everything with her, made her rideable and just grown up with her.”
She urged other horse owners to take all possible precautions to ensure that feed was locked away at their stables, before thanking all those who had offered support or donated to an online fundraiser to help cover her vets bills.
Darren, 58, added: “Every livery stable that is in the vicinity has had a visit from some burglars in recent times. It seems to be a bit of an epidemic and one of those rural crimes.”
The owners of the stables did not report the latest break-in after the police were unable to identify the suspects involved in the earlier September offence.
On that occasion, a number of items were taken after the locks to storage containers were cut off.
With no eye witnesses, forensic evidence or CCTV footage, police said they had been unable to established who was responsible.
But Inspector Mick Preston, who heads up the recently formed Leeds District Wildlife and Rural Crime Team, said they were committed to supporting horse owners.
“We recognise how important it is to keep working alongside them to create a secure environment for their animals, equipment and vehicles,” he said.
“Through the force-wide Horse Watch scheme, we provide advice and information to help prevent such offences and also encourage people to improve the security at their stables or yards, as well as linking in to targeting wider criminal activity.
“The scheme also provides a community network where people can receive and relay information that can alert them to recent crimes, help prevent and detect offences and assist in the recovery of stolen items.”
Owners are advised to consider security marking tack and equipment, increasing building and perimeter security, and installing CCTV and improved lighting.