|Breed||Before lockdown||After lockdown||% increase|
|Source: Dogs Trust|
Dog thefts increased by almost a fifth amid the coronavirus lockdown as soaring demand saw prices for some breeds almost double.
Staffordshire bull terriers, chihuahuas and cocker spaniels are among the most sought-after breeds being targeted by dognappers who are looking to cash in during the pandemic.
Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 166 per cent after the UK-wide lockdown, announced on 23 March, meant millions of people would be working from home.
Thieves recently stole an entire litter of seven cocker spaniel puppies, valued at £2,000 each, along with their mother from a caravan in Cambridge.
And, last month, Nala – a cross between a Maltese and a poodle known as a Maltipoo – was stolen in north London after crooks hijacked the van for a professional dog walking service.
But it is thought that Staffordshire bull-terriers remain the most popular breed of dog to be targeted by thieves, according to a survey from Direct Line.
Dogs Trust’s Chief Executive, Owen Sharp, told MailOnline: ‘We understand that dog owners are increasingly concerned about dog theft.
‘Demand for dogs is at an all-time high and prices for some of the UK’s most desirable dog breeds are at their highest in three years, and possibly at an all-time high, with the costs for some dogs increasing month-on-month since lockdown began last year.
‘Given the high demand for dogs in recent months and the increase in prices, it is no wonder criminals are taking advantage of the situation.’
Thieves recently stole an entire litter of seven cocker spaniel puppies, along with their mother, from a caravan in Cambridge
The entire litter of black puppies, which were valued at up to £2,000 each, were taken from a caravan in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, in July
He continued: ‘Our dogs play such a huge and important part in our lives but sadly thousands are stolen each year, which is absolutely heart breaking.
‘Current sentencing does very little to deter thieves and does not take into consideration how devastating it can be to have your dog taken from you.
‘Punishment for dog theft is determined by the monetary value of the dog, meaning perpetrators are often given fines which do not reflect the emotional impact of dog theft on the families involved.
‘We fully support any action to introduce tougher sentences that will act as a deterrent for those committing these crimes. At the very least, a community order or custodial sentence being given, rather than a fine.’
Dogs Trust recently revealed that the asking price for some of the UK’s most sought after breeds sky-rocketed after lockdown was announced.
The charity reviewed advertisements from the last three years on some of the UK’s largest classified advertising websites.
It found significant price hikes including for Dachshunds that cost an average of £973 before March with prices rising 89 per cent to £1,838 just months later.
Other breeds to have experienced a price increase include English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs and Chow Chows.
Last month Melina Georgiou (pictured) launched an appeal on Facebook for the return of her pet Nala who was stolen by dog thieves
Nala (pictured) – a cross between a Maltese and a poodle known as as Maltipoo – was taken in Barnet, north London
Last month Melina Georgiou launched a desperate appeal on Facebook for the return of her pet Nala – a cross between a Maltese and a poodle known as as Maltipoo.
The 27-year-old had trusted the safety of her pet with a professional dog walking service in Barnet, north London.
But as the dog walker went to a neighbour’s house to visit another client thieves jumped into the van and drove off with dogs still inside it.
The van was later found abandoned with one pooch left inside but Nala, and a second dog, Chester, who has cancer, were still missing.
The 27-year-old had trusted the safety of her pet with a professional dog walking service before the entire van was stolen
Similarly, seven cocker spaniel puppies and their mother were stolen by callous thieves during a burglary last year.
The entire litter of black puppies, which were valued at up to £2,000 each, were taken from a caravan in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, in July.
Detective Sergeant Ashley Ryan, of the force’s southern burglary team, said ath the time: ‘The owners are utterly heartbroken and extremely concerned for the welfare of their dogs.
‘I’m urging anyone who has been offered a similar looking dog, or knows someone who has, to get in touch.’
And, earlier this month, a dognapper snatched a pet Shih Tzu from outside a newsagents in Manchester.
Jack, a male Shih Tzu with a white and tan coat, was waiting for his owner outside Bobby’s Convenience Store in Collyhurst on March 11.
CCTV footage shows a silver Ford Mondeo parking on a nearby side street before a man in a black coat jumps out and runs towards the dog.
Less than a minute later, he was seen running back towards the car with Jack in his arms, before jumping inside and leaving the area.
The dog’s 60-year-old owner, who did not wish to be named, has been left devastated following the theft, saying Jack is ‘her world’ and she would ‘die for him’.
She suffers from lung cancer and, without the support of a family, relied on her dog for emotional support.
And, earlier this month, a dognapper snatched a pet Shih Tzu, called Jack (pictured) from outside a newsagents in Manchester
She’s now appealing for anyone who might have Jack to contact Greater Manchester Police or return him to a vet, saying he will be welcomed back with ‘no questions asked’.
She said: ‘Three years ago, my mum passed away, she was all I had – no brothers, no sisters.’
‘It was always just me and mum and then Jack came along; he got me out of bed every morning, even on my worst days.
‘I now have lung cancer and I can’t go on without him; I’ll die for him. He is my world. I can’t eat, I can’t drink, I can’t sleep.
‘I love him like a child I never had; I literally can’t fight without him. Please, please let Jack come home.’
UK’s most stolen dog breeds
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Yorkshire Terrier
- French Bulldog
- Border Collie
- Jack Russell
Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance
A spokesman for the RSPCA also told MailOnline: ‘It’s really concerning to see an increase in dog theft within certain areas of the UK and we’d urge anyone who believed their pooch has been taken to report the incident to police immediately.
‘As an animal welfare charity the RSPCA doesn’t deal directly with pet theft – leaving criminal matters such as this to the expertise of police – but we believe the rise in dognapping could be as a result of the surging popularity, and value, of fashionable and ‘designer’ breeds.
‘We’d urge all dog owners to take extra precautions to protect their pooches from thieves by neutering their pets, ensuring they are microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered, ensuring they wear a collar with contact details embroidered or an engraved ID tag.
‘We’d also advise that owners never leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, ensure their gardens are secure with gates locked, and ensure their pet has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when off-lead on walks.
‘Anyone who suspects their dog may have been stolen should immediately alert police, contact their microchip company to register their pet as stolen and inform local rescue groups, vets, dog walkers and neighbours.’
‘It is a legal requirement to have dogs microchipped but it is not against the law to leave other pets, such as cats, without a chip. However, the RSPCA would encourage all owners to get their pets microchipped.
‘Microchipping is a very easy procedure. It involves a tiny microchip being quickly and simply inserted under the animal’s skin and this then gives the pet their own unique code.
‘The microchip can be scanned and matched to the owner’s contact details which are kept on a database.
‘Thousands of pets are lost and stolen every year and many are never reunited with their owners but microchipping can help to change that. While collars and tags can get caught or removed – microchipping identifies pets permanently and effectively.
‘If an owner moves house or changes their telephone number they must make sure that they tell the database they are registered with so that they have up-to-date contact details.’