NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana is offering free microchips to people who want permanent identification for their saddles.

“It’s exciting,” said Cliff Williamson, director of regulatory affairs for the American Horse Council, a national equine industry group. Saddle thefts have been a problem for decades, he said, but he hasn’t heard of any similar state programs.

Saddles can cost anywhere from less than $200 to tens of thousands of dollars, Williamson said. “A microchip only costs $3. So if it can save law enforcement three minutes it’s well worth the investment,” Williamson said Wednesday.

Saddles are popular targets for agricultural theft because they don’t have identifiable marks or serial numbers, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry said in a news release Tuesday.

“Microchipping saddles is a unique identification tool which is invaluable if your saddle is lost or stolen,” said department Commissioner Mike Strain. “It is done in such a way that only you know it is there.”

Livestock Brand Commission officers can scan a microchipped saddle to confirm ownership, he said. “Otherwise, we have no way of proving the theft.”