Gone are the days when horses worked France’s countryside pulling a plow, now they are an effective deterrent to agricultural thieves.
Over the last decade, France has seen a steady increase of stolen produce, particularly goods with high commercial value such as oysters, cheese and wine. In recent years agricultural thefts have grown to more than 10,000 reports annually.
Thieves use a similar M.O. (modus operandi) to “get the goods”. They simply sneaking in under cover of darkness and grab what they can. The financial loses to individual farmers can exceed tens of thousands of dollars. In 2017 more than 190,000 pounds of oysters were stolen from the Charente-Maritime region. A vineyard in Burgundy lost enough grapes in just one night to make 100 bottles of wine. A cheese producer in Puy-de-Dome woke to find more than $12,000 (10,000 euros) of cheese absconded from storage shelves.
In an effort to turn the tide, the French government has deployed a number of tactics from employing drones equipped with cameras to patrolling farms on horseback. Whether of a modern or old-fashioned variety, farms patrolled by “horse power” have seen a sharp decline of thefts.