Dog thefts hit record levels with 1,882 reported in 2021
15th March 2022

Dog thefts in England and Wales hit record levels with 1,882 reported in 2021 – 25 per cent more than the previous year

  • Data from 31 police forces shows that 1,882 dog thefts were reported in 2021
  • This is 25% more than the 1,500 offences recorded in 2020 but could be higher
  • The increase is fuelled by booming pet prices after puppies bought in lockdown

The number of dogs being stolen has reached record levels with thefts rocketing by 25 per cent in the last year. 

Alarming data from 31 police forces in England and Wales shows that 1,882 dog thefts were reported last year – 25 per cent more than the 1,500 offences recorded in 2020. 

The true number is likely to be even higher. 

The data obtained under freedom of information laws by Dr Daniel Allen, co-founder of Pet Theft Reform, suggests dognapping is still on the rise despite Government plans to crack down on it. 

The increase has been fuelled by booming pet prices after many Britons bought puppies in lockdown.   

Alarming data from 31 police forces in England and Wales shows that 1,882 dog thefts were reported last year – 25 per cent more than the 1,500 offences recorded in 2020

The number of dogs being stolen has reached record levels with thefts rocketing by 25 per cent in the last year, new figures show.

Alarming data from police forces reveals that at least five offences a day are reported, with dognappers snatching multiple animals in some cases.

Figures from 31 police forces in England and Wales show that 1,882 dog thefts were reported last year, with more than 2,044 pets taken either from their homes or owners out walking their pets.

That represents 25 per cent more than the 1,500 offences recorded in 2020 by the same forces, which acccounted for 1,698 missing animals.

The true number is likely to be even higher as only around two thirds of police forces in England and Wales were able to provide figures.

The data obtained under freedom of information by Dr Daniel Allen, co-founder of Pet Theft Reform and an academic at Keele University, suggest that dognapping is still on the rise despite Government plans to crackdown on offenders.

London saw the highest number of dogs being stolen, with thefts increasing by a third to a record 362 offences recorded in 2021, compared to 268 in 2020.

The data obtained under freedom of information by Dr Daniel Allen, co-founder of Pet Theft Reform and an academic at Keele University, suggest that dognapping is still on the rise despite Government plans to crackdown on offenders

Last year a total of 422 dogs were taken in the capital, which is almost double the 231 animals targeted in 2017.

Of those only 58 pets were recovered by officers last year.

Figures from Scotland Yard show a steady increase in dognapping, with 299 dogs being stolen in 2018 rising to 318 in 2020.

The most recent figures from the force suggest that the trend is set to continue with 101 dogs reported stolen in the last three months to February this year.

The rapid increase in dognapping has been fuelled by booming pet prices after scores of Britons bought a puppy during the lockdown.

According to separate research from pet retailer Pets at Home, the average puppy in the UK now costs a hefty £1,875 – more than double the average price in 2019.

And some breeds will set you back an average of nearly £3,000.

Experts had hoped that as demand for pets slowed with many householders returning to work that thefts would subside.

But campaigners fear the latest figures released yesterday (mon) on dog theft awareness day show that thieves are undeterred by current laws.

Pets are only protected under the Theft Act 1968, in which they are categorised in the same way as a stolen mobile phone.

Offenders often escape substantial punishments as Sentencing Council guidelines only require judges to consider whether ‘items stolen were of substantial value to the loser’, regardless of monetary worth or emotional distress.

Now ministers are planning to add dognapping to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which will make it a specific offence punishable by five years imprisonment.

Now ministers are planning to add dognapping to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which will make it a specific offence punishable by five years imprisonment

Dr Allen said: ‘Dog theft offences in England and Wales continue to rise.

‘From the 31 of 43 regional police forces in England and Wales who could supply comparable FOI data, there has been a 25 per cent increase in recorded dog theft offences from 2020 to 2021.

‘This may be a combination of increased crimes and/or changes to policing practice.’

Yesterday Wes Pearson, CEO of Animal Friends Insurance, called for the new law to include cats as police figures show that this too is on the increase.

He said: ‘The steps taken by the Government so far to help tackle the growing issue of dog theft are incredibly positive and we’re fully supportive of the proposed changes to make it a new criminal offence. However, we must continue to push for cats to be included.

‘Cats play an equally important role as dogs in our families and lives, so why are they being excluded from the protections the new dog abduction offence would bring?

‘Not only is the data showing an increase in dogs being stolen across the country, cat abduction has also significantly increased, with the data due to be released shortly.’

‘We urge the Government to rethink the proposed changes and ensure that our feline family members are given the same securities as their canine counterparts.’

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