Local News

Authorities investigate horse hair theft

LAKE PLACID - Every week, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office receives reports of thefts of televisions, cars, computers and other such items.

But within the last weeks, deputies investigated a type of theft that is apparently the first of its kind in the county.

The owner of three horses in the Lake Placid area found that two of the horses had all the hair removed from their mains and tails, and that one had some of its hair removed from those locations, authorities said Friday.

Loretta Smith, the owner, said her husband fed the horses on a Friday night and discovered what had happened Saturday morning. She said he found none of the hair on the property.

"It was disbelief and wondering why anyone would attempt to do this," Smith said.

Nell Hays, public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, said that the horses were apparently not physically injured.

The Sheriff's Office is treating the incident as a trespass case because its not aware of any other state law that would fit the situation, she said.

Hays said that while investigators don't know why someone cut the hair, horse hair has uses, including for weaving, crafts and fishing lures. Reports on the Internet indicate that horse hair has been used for wigs, as well.

As far as Hays knows, she said, this is the first such incident involving cutting horse hair in Highlands County. But it's not the first one in the area.

Last December, a man reported that someone cut the mane from his white and gray mare, according to a press release from the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

The mare's owner told authorities that the hair could be sold for as $250 to $300 a pound and that the hair could be used for jewelry, artist brushes, and strings for instruments, the press release said.

Although the cutting of the hair from the horse itself may not hurt the hair, the removal from the tail prevents the animal from getting flies or bugs off them, according to an article on theIndychannel.com

The report on that site said that authorities in Plainfield, Ind., have investigated several incidents of people cutting the manes or tails off horses.

The incident also is fairly prevalent in the west, according to reports on the Internet.

The Toronto Star in 2012 reported that hair thefts were on the rise in the Midwest of the United States. In Natrona County, Wyo., hairs or manes were cut from at least 62 horses that year, the article said.

A woman in Casper, Wyo., reported that someone cut hair from 12 horses, reducing the value of the animals.


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