Saddle theft is a problem. These high value items can be relatively easily stolen and then sold on eBay, Craig’s list and other forums, disappearing without a trace.
Sure, each saddle has a serial number, but how many people ask for them and then contact the manufacturer before purchasing a used saddle?
I’ve seen several companies over the past few years advertise microchip solutions, but you need to scan a saddle to see if there’s a chip. That’s not something you can do when you’re buying on line and even when buying in person you would need access to a scanner.
Prevent theft, rather than find stolen saddles
Now a company called the Saddle Network is offering a service that it says will help prevent theft by providing a visual deterrent. Using their system you attach a three-inch, flat aluminum tag to your saddle. Each tag is coded with the owner’s information using a number that can be accessed by scanning the QR code or by entering the tag number directly at the website.
If the saddle is stolen, the owner can quickly notify the Saddle Network community by updating the status of the saddle. If the tag is removed, the rivet holes left behind are a red flag that a saddle’s legitimacy should be questioned. A saddle with holes in a Saddle Network tag location can still be checked on the site in a parameter search by entering information as simple as saddle brand.
An interesting idea, but will it work?
It’s an interesting idea that is based on prevention, rather than reaction. The theory is that the permanent tag will make your saddle less desirable to thieves. The question is, does the permanent tag make your saddle just less desirable?
The tag is permanently affixed to your saddle using rivets. You must punch holes in the leather to do this and the tag must be displayed in a visible, prescribed location on the saddle. The video below shows the installation process:
So, basically, you permanently alter your $$$K saddle by punching holes in it. How many of you have the nerve to do that? And will the tag be an eyesore or a serve as protection? I, for one, would have a darned hard time bringing myself to punch two holes in the panels of a high end saddle. But I am probably in a (knock on wood) low risk area for saddle theft and my saddles have all been purchased used.
There are three other questions that were top of mind when I first thought about it.
How much does it cost? The fees range are $6.95/month for two tags; $12.95/month for three tags; $19.95/month for four tags; $499/lifetime membership for 10 tags. The company points out that while your insurance may pay for a replacement saddle if yours is stolen, you may well see an increase in your premium so paying for a deterrent has value. For the average user with two saddles, it’s an additional $83 year. If you have four saddles, it goes up to $240/year.
What happens if you don’t want the service anymore? You can discontinue the service and you can take the tag off the saddle but you will always have the holes in your saddle.
Does it increase the value of your saddle or decrease it? This, most likely, depends on your perception. If you think the service is worthwhile and you don’t mind paying the $83 per year you might think it’s an advantage. If you don’t, you might think that two holes in the panel are a problem. If you decide to sell your saddle, you will need to find someone else who values the service or they will likely want to pay less than for a saddle with the panel intact.
So, what do you think? If you had just dropped a few thousand $$ on a fancy new saddle, would you tag it? Or would you just never let it out of your sight?