News Details

Deputy rescues stolen horse, reunites with owner

When Deputy Ricketts first was assigned to San Juan Capistrano Police Services about a year ago he had heard tales of a caper who would sneak into horse stables at night, take a horse for a ride, then return the horse safely.


Although never proven to be true, the horse borrower stories prompted deputies to take additional proactive patrol checks around the city’s horse stables and equestrian centers during night shifts.


When Ricketts was dispatched at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, June 16, to a call involving a horse in a city parking lot, the tales he had heard didn’t cross his mind.


“We’ve had horses get loose before so the call itself didn’t strike me as odd,” he said.


When he arrived to the vacant city parking lot at Ramos Street and Paseo Adelanto, he found a brown and white gelding abandoned in the parking lot. Having experience riding horses as a teenager, Ricketts was able to calm and corral the horse until Animal Control arrived.


“They handed me a bridle and they handed me a rope and I used some apples to get the horse to come to me,” he said.


Ricketts placed the bridle on the horse and walked him back to the San Juan Capistrano Police Services substation. He tied the horse to a post and gave him water while they worked to find the owner.


The investigation showed a suspect broke in to a local stable and rode the horse bare-backed through the city. Security footage from the stables helped investigators identify the 42-year-old woman who was arrested later that day on suspicion of felony burglary and grand theft.


Deputies were able to reunite Quito 019, a 23-year-old Holsteiner gelding, with its grateful owners. Quito was a former Grand Prix jumper and continues to win championship ribbons as a dressage horse.


Did deputies nab the fabled horse caper? Maybe. However, they’ll continue to keep watch on local horse centers just in case.