According to police data and the UK’s largest lost and found dog service, lockdown year has been the worst ever for pet theft.
The huge demand for dogs pushed up puppy prices and resulted in record numbers of animals being stolen, leaving distraught owners suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD, says DogLost, which saw a 65 per cent rise in dog theft up to July 31, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Police reports reveal Northumbria suffered the biggest increase in thefts, with more than double the number of dogs stolen, up from 27 to 67. Devon and Cornwall came next (up from 25 to 47), followed by Leicestershire, Humberside, and Suffolk.
It’s thought criminals were targeting breeders and high-value sheepdogs and gundogs in these more rural areas.
Now MPs have been alerted to the issue, thanks to two petitions driven by Keele University’s Dr Daniel Allen, and signed by more than 200,000 people.
Led by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, a parliamentary debate called on the government to make pet theft a specific offence, empowering judges to hand out two-year prison sentences.