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Harness theft reward increased to £5K

PUBLISHED: 14:27 13 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:11 13 July 2010

Horse driving enthusiast John Wright has hardly slept or eaten since his prize harnesses were stolen last week.

And now the 74-year-old, who devotes his life to horses since suffering a brain tumour 10 years ago, has upped the reward he is offering in the hope of getting the collection back from £1,000 to £5,000.

Horse driving enthusiast John Wright has hardly slept or eaten since his prize harnesses were stolen last week.

And now the 74-year-old, who devotes his life to horses since suffering a brain tumour 10 years ago, has upped the reward he is offering in the hope of getting the collection back from £1,000 to £5,000.

Mr Wright, from Erpingham near Aylsham lost the bulk of his tack room contents in a raid last Thursday morning while he slept in the house next door.

“I never thought there was a man out there bad enough to do this,” he said. “I've not eaten, and my wife has lost half a stone in weight.

“I've not slept at night. We are too frightened to go to bed in case they come back. Every time a light comes on you leap out of bed, even if it's just a car going past.”

Mr Wright is a familiar sight in the local lanes driving his rally cart behind black horse Zorro, as well as at official functions ranging from weddings and school proms to the Norfolk Police gala day and giving a ride to Father Christmas.

The harness collection has taken 35 years to amass, and includes horse equipment that is 80 years old.

“I have spent hours cleaning it,” said Mr Wright, whose father was a farm horseman handling the beasts that were the forerunner of tractors, and whose grandfather supplied horses to Cromer to pull the wheeled bathing huts out of the sea.

“I love driving around the lanes, and stopping to chat to people. People are interested in the horses and carriages, and I take pleasure in talking to them.”

He has now borrowed some harnesses to get back on the road, but is desperate to get his own equipment back - and has also tried to alert the horse world, through friends and family who share his passion.

Mr Wright's message to the thieves was: “Bring them back, or let me know where the stuff is. I'll give you the money.”

The haul, worth thousands of pounds, comprised up to 20 sets of harnesses, three of which were particularly treasured - such as those with red and yellow embellishments on black leather. There were also “lawn boots” for horses, a steel collar for a mule, some leather muzzles, a pair harness, set with a breast plate and carriage lamps.

Mr Wright was a scrap dealer for many years until his tumour, and having always been a horse lover, now devotes his time to his hobby.

He discovered the theft last Thursday morning, after finding a whip and strip in the grounds, where the raiders had dragged them across the grass.

The £5,000 reward is for information leading to the conviction of those responsible and recovery of the goods. Contact North Walsham CID on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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