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Victim’s Father Pleads: “Please Take My Truck”

Flat Rock, IL – The soaring prices at the pumps has this father in Crawford County, Illinois, pleading for someone to take his truck. But high gas prices are not the only reason. Maximum Reflections, better know as Max, a 12-year-old American Paint Horse was taken from his pasture in Flat Rock, Illinois, August 23, 2008, leaving Kaitlynn Blilskie, Keith Caughran’s stepdaughter devastated. He has been doing everything he can to help the 13-year-old find her prized barrel horse ever since, including contacting Stolen Horse International, so Max could be posted on the nonprofit organization’s website: http://www.NetPosse.com.

Once an IDAHO Alert (the equine version of an AMBER Alert) was issued, NetPosse volunteers began distributing Max’s flyer and web page by the thousands through their online contacts and list groups. Since the alert, word has spread quickly, which is helpful — any stolen horse could be transported across the United States in days, even across a border into Canada or Mexico, or sold at auction several times within a few days’ time.

“Our family is just stunned,” Keith Caughran said. “Kaitlynn barrel raced and ran poles on Max in competition. Kaitlynn is just heartbroken. We cannot believe he is gone.”

Horse theft is not a crime that went out with the “Old West Days” as many would think. It is alive and thriving in the U.S. today. It is estimated that thousands of horses are missing each year. With the help of volunteers through NetPosse.com, many horses are recovered, and there is hope for victims like the Caughrans. Still, others remain missing with their owners living in fear that their horse will end up in one of the slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico.

Keith quickly offered a $2,000 reward for the return of Max, hoping the money would result in bringing the gelding home quickly. That has not happened. Keith, a farrier by trade, decided to sweeten the pot.

“I want to put my truck up for Max’s reward,” Keith told Debi Metcalfe, President of Stolen Horse International in a recent phone conversation. “I can’t afford to drive it, and the Ford truck is worth around $6,000. If it will help bring Max home to Kaitlynn, I will at least get some use out of it. Anyone entitled to the reward for recovering Max can choose cash or the truck.”

“We have never had a reward offered like this before,” says Metcalfe. “I’m not sure one has been offered for anything anywhere like this.”

The theft of Max has added to the problems associated with gas prices for this family. Like many in the United States, Caughran is rethinking how he can get his family where they need to go each and every day. His living is made by going to numerous clients’ barns daily. Still, he and the family intend to search for Max, until they can no longer afford to do so.

“I talked with Kaitlynn and my heart was breaking right along with hers,” say Metcalfe. “I, too, am a victim of theft, and I know how it feels. I’ve been working with victims ever since our horse was stolen in 1997 and recovered 51 weeks later.

“They do not have a computer so Keith is learning how to use one and is getting online anywhere he can; sometimes at a friend’s house and sometimes at the public library 10 miles away. An email I received from Kaitlynn describes how a victim feels much better than I can.”

“How do I feel about my stolen horse Max? I cannot concentrate in school, focus on homework, watch TV or even go to sleep without thinking about him. He was my best friend and my whole life.

“You can't just pretend it never happened or search for a few months and forget about it. The questions in your head suffocate you until you can't pay attention to anything else. It causes problems in your family and everyone is so tense. And everybody just wants to know the top question, ‘Where is he?’

“My [family] and I want the people that stole Max to know that he is not just a horse; he is a loving family member with a sense of humor … we will sacrifice our lives or go to the end of the Earth for Max. We will not give up or lose hope. We will not stop praying and we will keep our family together for whatever it takes, we will find Max. I may be a 13-year-old girl, but I'm a 13-year-old girl who speaks with faith in my heart.”

Please help this family find Max. Go to http://www.netposse.com, and to the Illinois stolen horse listings. Max is there and anyone can print a flyer to post in area feed or tack stores, auctions barns, restaurants or convenience stores – anywhere people congregate. You don’t have to be a horse owner to help.


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