Three weeks ago we reported Erika Adams' 20 year old, well loved Sundowner trailer was stolen from the off site trailer parking at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. You may recall she had parked her modest trailer on the top tier of trailer parking for easy access to her feed and equipment while competing at TIEC. The theory, being surely with all the fancy newer trailers parked in TIEC's offsite trailer parking, the Sundowner would be of little risk to be stolen.
As we all now know, the following morning, hardly 12 hours after leaving it in the lot, a thief had hooked it up and disappeared with it and all of her equipment. Some were wondering if by daylight the thief would realize he had not made off with a sparkling $100,000 horse trailer with full living quarters and would leave it somewhere. Others speculated it had been toted off to a state that doesn't require titles for resale, or dumped at a chop shop for scrap metal.
Erika being the hard worker that she is hunkered down and made the best of her weekend with lots of help from old friends, and made several new friends along the way. Her trainer, Harrison Ford pointed her in the direction of The Farm House to help get her some essentials to make it through the weekends competition. Once getting wind of her story Farm House was able to quickly reach out to manufacturers and quickly step up with big discounts to help get her outfitted to show. Once Farm House made Ariat International aware of the situation, they too jumped in to donate new replacements for what Erika had lost in the theft.
At the end of the weekend Erika made her way home with her horse "Iffy" in a borrowed trailer and looking down the road at having to replace all of her equipment and her trailer in the very near future. Insurance claims filed, the waiting game had begun. Then, a good friend started a crowd funding page to help offset the cost of getting Erika back on her feet. The response from the local community and the equine community at large was amazing to observe.
Just when it seemed her trailer and all of training equipment and show apparel was lost for good, she received a very unexpected phone call. On the evening of August 9th 2016 the police called to let her know that the trailer had been discovered. It was being used as a dwelling by a man and woman. The police are being very tight lipped about all the details but after speaking with Erika we were able to put some of the pieces together.
From what we know, the police found the trailer located detached from a vehicle at a storage facility in Asheville, N.C., approximately 45 miles North East of TIEC. A couple with a baby had been living out of trailers tack room, while parked at the storage facility. It is unknown at this time if the inhabitants stole the trailer or simply received stolen property. The police went to the storage facility attempting to question the man and woman about an unrelated charge. The officers then discovered the trailer the suspects were residing in was listed as stolen. When the suspects in the trailer were confronted, the man fled on foot. "The man is still on the run, keep your eyes peeled for a barefoot commando man, in corduroy pants with suspenders. His shoes and underwear were still in my trailer!" Said Erika jokingly.
The officers were able to apprehend the woman with the baby and detain her for questioning. Much of what the detectives have discovered has not been released. What we do know is that officers removed the trailer from the storage facility and brought it to a junk yard in Candler, N.C. ( I am at a loss for words for the precariously placed police car next to her trailer.) Erika met the officers at the junk yard the following day to help the officers determine what was hers, and what the suspects brought with them into the trailer. The detectives were able to seize several things presumed stolen that were not Erika's out of the trailer including a laptop. The officers do not believe the trailer was involved in any drug related activity while it has been at the storage facility
"They were living out of my trailer, sleeping on the mattress in the nose of the goose neck. We removed dirty diapers, empty baby bottles & underwear. The dude really had a thing for suspenders, we removed many, many suspenders. SO MANY suspenders.The woman apparently liked my clothes, she wore several of my breeches, show and polo shirts, which are now stained and ruined." Said Erika. She went on to thank the officers for putting her at ease in a difficult situation. Erika noted that there are many things missing from her equipment list that will need to be replaced, the tack room interior has a lingering pungent odor as well as miscellaneous debris and stains. The trailer also sustained some damage to the body which will need to be repaired.
I'm sure Erika had no idea when she named her business "Road Less Traveled Eventing" that her wayward trailer would give the name a whole new meaning. Erika was able to get the trailer out of the storage facility after it had been released by the police. She has since made the trip home and begun the process of figuring out what is missing, what is salvageable and what is ruined.
What was her first concern you might ask? "Do I need to return the items that where donated by Ariat & Farm House?" was at the head of the list.
We think you have been through quite enough Erika! With everything you have been through these last few weeks, you deserve every bit of what Farm House & Ariat International gave to you and then some! Please enjoy your new Ariat show clothes with best wishes for a brighter future moving forward! We can't wait to hear all the rest of the details when you come back to town for the Adult Eventing Championships next month!