Police urge owners to protect their pets as thefts surge during pandemic

Suspected recent dog thefts include the discovery of seven English bulldog puppies at a home in Liverpool

Kate Ng
Wednesday 10 February 2021 07:08
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<p>Owners should be careful when posting pictures of their new puppy on social media, say police</p>

Owners should be careful when posting pictures of their new puppy on social media, say police

Organised criminals are increasingly turning to dog theft as the demand for puppies continues to rise during lockdown, police have warned.

It comes as the Scottish SPCA warned pet owners over people posing as inspectors using fake work vans to try and steal pets.

The animal welfare charity warned on 4 February that bogus inspectors were using white vans with black writing on the side.

But since then, members of the public reported that the impersonators have switched to using black vans with white writing, similar to the official vans used by the Scottish SPCA.

Doglost, a charity that helps reunite owners with their lost dogs, saw reported pet thefts rise from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.

Deputy chief constable Amanda Blakeman, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said the increase in the cost of a puppy has made stealing dogs an even more “lucrative market” for lawbreakers.

She warned pet owners to be careful when posting pictures of their new puppy on social media, and for potential owners to consider carefully where the animal had come from.

Ms Blackman, the NPCC lead for acquisitive crime, said: “Dog theft can be a devastating crime for families and causes considerable distress to owners.

“Whilst it is still a very rare crime, it’s sadly something we have seen increasing recently. During the coronavirus pandemic, criminals have adjusted their activities and are taking advantage of the big demand for pets over the lockdown period.

“The cost of a puppy has considerably increased over the past year making this a lucrative market for organised criminals to exploit.”

Recent cases of suspected dog theft include the discovery of seven English bulldog puppies at a home in Liverpool and 80 dogs at a property in Wales.

Two men and a woman were arrested by the Greater Manchester Police after a member of the public saw a person carrying seven puppies into a house.

The English bulldog puppies were taken from a house in Leigh, Wigan, around 2.30am on 2 February and were later discovered at an address in Merseyside.

In Wales, Dyfed-Powys Police found 80 dogs at a property in Carmarthenshire that are thought to have been stolen.

Police arrested two people and so far, 30 of the animals have been returned to their rightful owners.

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