Eugowra man Wilf Norris has been left broken hearted after a lifetime’s work and passion was callously stolen from his Escort Way property late last week.
Police were called in to investigate after Mr Norris on Friday morning found locks to his property gates cut and the shed doors broken open and emptied of draught horse working gear that had seen the farmer become a revered and well known horseman in the almost three-quarters of a century he has used the massive work horses.
“It has upset me,” Mr Norris said yesterday.
“It has been 73 years since I started working with the draught horses, and some of that went out the gate that night. I went out on Friday morning, and when I saw the front gate open and the lock had been cut, I went down and seen (sic) the harness shed open … when I looked in, my legs went to jelly,” he said.
The list of stolen items includes a leather strap, full cart harness, draught horse collars, pairs of blinkers, dray saddles and bridgings, plough reins, anvil, chainsaw, saddle and bridle, racing bits, curved bit with leather bridle, and a plastic box full of photographs and personal papers.
“Draught horse gear is bringing good money, and it is hard to get,” Mr Norris said, when trying to explain why his beloved equipment was targeted.
He still has his draught horses, worked nowadays by his son Bill - he himself only hung up the reins in recent years because he felt he was starting to get too old. And now, of course, his son Bill will not be able to work them because he has no harnesses or equipment to use.
A local saddler in Eugowra is currently working on making some more blinkers for the horses, and members of the Australian Draught Horse Society have offered to lend the family collars for the time being.
“People have all been very good - ringing from Sydney and everywhere.
“They have offered stuff for me, but I am just hoping that they find it all and I can get it back.”
Mr Norris and his draught horses are a cultural identity - for many years farming with them and making hay stacks the old fashioned way, a strong and active presence in the Australian Draught Horse Association, competing in draught horse pulls, using them for weddings and so on.
Inspector Adam Beard based at Cowra Police station confirmed the break and enter on the rural property between 5pm on March 3 and 8pm on March 4.
“Our enquiries are continuing, we are conducting an investigation and an examination of the scene has been requested by forensic police,” Insp Beard said.
“A white coloured van was seen in the vicinity of the property during the night of the incident … it may or may not be connected but we certainly need to investigate that.”
Police urge anyone with information in relation to the van or any other information to contact local police or Crimestoppers as soon as possible.
“Break and enters and theft of any property have the potential to cause great distress and concern to those victims, specifically in relation to property stolen in this instance ... not only for the victim but for the community of Eugowra.
“Police acknowledge the owner’s great sentimental affection to this property; his lifelong work and passion,” he said.
The matter has also been referred to the Rural Crime Investigation squad.
Mr Norris’ friends and family have also taken it to social media in the hope of uncovering any information possible.
“No matter how long it takes, the case will remain open until it is resolved,” Insp Beard added.