Crazy Craigslist: Society for Catching Horse Thieves

A Recent Craigslist Posting that I came across:

Nor Cal Society for Catching Horse Thieves

Date: 2011-12-25, 11:16AM PST
Reply to:                                                [Errors when replying to ads?]

                                                                         If a smile and a handshake is just as strong as any contract.                          

  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests


 On occasion I read Craigslist for horse-related items, such as horses or tack for sale, ads from boarding facilities, and the like.  This evening I found the ad posted above and it left me shaking my head, so I thought I would share it with my fellow equestrians.

As a preface, I think the person sounds a bit odd,  however, I have just a few comments to say in response:

1. In the spirit of this equine legal blog,  I would warn this Craigslister that no matter how grave a crime against horses, vigilantism is illegal (i.e., taking the law into your own hands to wreak your own punishment without legal authority).

2.  A smile and a handshake is not "just as strong as any contract."  Any equestrian that has had a horse deal fall apart or go wrong can attest to that; a contract helps prevent liability, anticipates apportionment of losses, and ultimately, a written contract helps solidify that the parties understand the agreement and understand that they are entering into a binding matter.

3. If you ever buy or sell an item on Craigslist, please use extreme caution when meeting with the potential seller/buyer; don't go alone, meet at a public place, and during the day.  There are not only some oddballs, but also crazy and dangerous Craigslist users out there.

Update: I did a little further research, and the "Society for Apprehending Horse Thieves" was founded in the 19th century to 'combat a rash of horse thievery' in Dedham, Massachusetts.  The Society has continued to meet for 192 years, yet a horse hasn't been reported stolen in Dedham since 1909. It seems to be a tax exempt charitable organization.  
An amusing and insightful Los Angeles Times article on their local Society can be found here.  Apparently the Society members are not vigilantes, but are given authority by local enforcement to search for stolen horses (though they haven't been asked to search since 1917). 
 The Society in the 21st century appears to exist as a men's social group.

 I wasn't aware of this Society before- do any of you readers have insight?

*The black marks indicate my redaction of what I considered irrelevant portions of the Craigslist posting for the purpose of this blog