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January 13, 2015

The protection of individuals, companies and all their physical and intellectual properties are central to the offerings of professional protective service organizations. From there, one can drill down deeper. Possessions today can have extremely large monetary values, and are often irreplaceable. Animals in particular are unique in their worldly presence and emotional connection to their owners. Unfortunately, thoroughbred race horses and expensive pets can also - in some circumstances - become targets for theft and tampering. This is an area in which many security services do not offer comprehensive protection, and thus finding the right solution for these particular needs can be difficult.


Thoroughbred Race Horse Tampering

There are close to 10 million horses in the United States. Approximately 10% of them are involved in the horse racing industry. They are not all winners, but the ones who are can cost millions of dollars. The winning purse amounts have been steadily increasing because of track consolidations in America and computerized and simulcast betting boosting the smaller track wagering. At the same time, the number of race horses competing has been diminishing – and these two elements combine to yield a much higher potential return for the top, higher class thoroughbreds – as well as increase their monetary value. "Horse racing is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with individual horses having potential asset values in the tens of millions of dollars. Protecting them from criminal tampering or from any number of possible misfortunes is absolutely critical." - Ray Paulick / Paulick Report. Tens of billions of dollars are bet each year on races. It is based around a unique pari-mutuel system which differs from gambling casino play. In horse racing, the wagers placed by bettors are played against each other rather than the ‘house’, and all the bet money is commingled into one big race track pool. Generally, over three quarters of the wagers are returned to bettors as winnings, and the remainder – the ‘takeout’ - goes to the track for expenses, taxes, maintenance, and profit. This substantial and continuous flow of money within a very competitive sport can lead to criminal acts of tampering. The performance of these finely tuned, thousand pound athletes, can be severely compromised if someone with a motive gains access to their feed or water. Administering drugs to a thoroughbred horse can also trigger a positive for banned substances – leading to possible disqualification and having a major impact on future earnings. So while the actual theft of a prize race horse is highly unlikely, a protective circle around these animals is recommended at all times.


Vulnerability of Competitive Horses

A thoroughbred can have a travel itinerary similar to any professional athlete. There are times at home, times training, times traveling to competitions and performance times. Each horse has a home base – the stable. They are often not just little barns; they are on farms with many acres and structures. A diligent protection service that specializes in risk management consulting will start with a risk assessment process used in other industries and areas of security. Every aspect of the animal’s daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routine is factored in, evaluated and detailed in a threat assessment – from the stable to the track and transit. The race horse stables can be situated on sprawling farm properties encompassing well over 20 acres. The overview of the security within the entire farm needs to be evaluated. Some of the initial questions that need to be answered are:

  • How far can someone get into the property without recognition?
  • What credentials are needed to gain access?
  • Who is responsible for day to day security?
  • How does nighttime change their vulnerability?
  • What alarm/fire systems & video surveillance technology are implemented - and which vendor is responsible for the monitoring? Are they adequate?
  • What is the response protocol and who responds?

Very often, it is recommended to do what is called ‘penetration testing’. For this type of evaluation, we ask the client to not divulge to us any information on security, layout, or other “insider” information. Looking at it from the eyes of a potential intruder, our team does what someone with a negative intent would do. The old TV detective movies would refer to it as ‘casing the joint’. Subsequently, we see how far we can physically exploit the security of the stable complex. This can often be an eye opener to those with a vested interest in their thoroughbred investments, and greatly impact their overall sense of safety on their own premises. Once the current system is fully tested and evaluated, subsequent recommended revisions and upgrades are detailed and prioritized. Crimes and crisis situations may be prevented through environmental design, the appropriate mix of technology and modern security measures. A fresh set of eyes is always beneficial in identifying potential threats. While in transit, the protection of race horses entails other challenges. Experienced protection teams can provide coverage throughout all modes of transportation, and accomplish this with an overt or covert presence – or a combination of the two. GPS capability with threat monitoring for the duration is also recommended. At each track destination, the protection web continues, and it encompasses advanced interaction with the track, the personnel, and the new surroundings including high level security for the duration of the stay.


Coordination with Intelligence Gathering

Physical structure security is one component. It needs to be interwoven with smart intelligence gathering from a broad spectrum of acquired information that includes the vetting process of affiliated individuals and vendors, a comprehensive search of social media and other online Internet activities and projection of what other outside persons or organizations might pose a potential risk. It is the coordination of these elements that comprise a comprehensive security and protection strategy, and determine the tactics to consistently have in motion. Another key element is the one centric ‘mastermind’ center – what we call the Pinkerton Vigilance Network - continually monitoring the entire big picture in real time for potential threats. Security features and responses are only as good as the level of professionalism incorporated in the way the situation is monitored. When protection of priceless race horses is the goal, the owners must be cognizant of the fact that local alarm companies and internal security hires may not provide the top tier level of security desired. Smart minds with criminal intent will always find ways to break through any barriers that can be exploited. The importance of a centralized monitoring system under the supervision of skilled high level security experts is crucial to assisting successful protection.


Security for Other High End Pets & Possessions

A similar approach is employed for other types of animals and high end possessions that need enhanced security services. From a celebrity whose constant traveling companions are a pair of Mini Samoyeds to a Fortune 500 CEO that desires to fly to a politically unstable tumultuous foreign country at the last minute along with his/her spouse and a jewelry box full of diamonds, gems and gold – it is advised to not ignore the inherent risks, and to take measures to promote safe and secure travel, from start to finish. Protection needs to be professionally managed while at home, in transit or at any destination in the world. Security breaches – either in the thoroughbred stable or on an international hotel penthouse floor – can be prevented in order for the client to continue business as usual in an uncompromised way. Executive protection and celebrity protection are two security service areas that are currently in very high demand. The best protection service providers have the skill, ingenuity, technology and expertise to help secure individuals and property.

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