Posted 2 months ago
New research shows a failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196 families every month in the UK, with only two per cent of cases resulting in a criminal charge (Image: Getty Images)
A total of 146 dog thefts have been reported in East Midlands during the pandemic – but no criminal charges.
New research shows a failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196 families every month in the UK, with only two per cent of cases resulting in a criminal charge.
The statistics, gathered by The Kennel Club through Freedom of Information requests to the 45 police forces in the UK, to which 36 responded, show that there were an estimated 2,355 cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a seven per cent increase on 2019.
This amounts to more than 196 dogs being stolen, to the heartbreak of their owners, every single month.
However, based on the 27 police forces that responded on dog theft outcomes in 2020, only two per cent of all dog theft cases in the UK led to a suspect being charged.
In the East Midlands, there were 146 dog thefts in 2020 but no criminal charges.
The statistics, gathered by The Kennel Club through Freedom of Information requests to the 45 police forces in the UK, to which 36 responded, show that there were an estimated 2,355 cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a seven per cent increase on 2019 (Image: Getty Images)
No suspect was identified in over half, 57 per cent, of these reported dog theft cases in the East Midlands, and in 36 per cent a suspect was identified but no action was taken, due to ‘evidential difficulties’.
Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Rupert Matthews said: “Dog theft is a tremendously emotive subject and traumatic for all those who have had their dogs stolen. Those affected have my sympathy.
"It is my ambition to ensure an outstanding service is provided to all victims of crime.
“We must ensure that the victim receives appropriate support, we all want to see the offender arrested and brought to justice. In addition, the punishment should of course fit the crime.
He added: "The risk of theft is worrying dog owners across the country so I think it is important owners are given the best advice and information available to protect the safety and security of their pets.
"I will be talking to Chief Constable to establish the scale of the problem in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”
The statistics have been revealed just months after the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce was established to help tackle the issue – in which time another 508 dogs have been stolen.
The Kennel Club is urging more transparent recording of pet theft on a central database, so that underlying causes of dog theft can be tackled and for the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing.
“Dog theft has devastating consequences for both the owners and the animals involved and it is quite frankly jaw dropping that 98 per cent of cases never result in a criminal charge and in more than half, no suspect is ever identified,” said Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel Club.
“Not only that but when a sentence is handed out it is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.
“The low charge rates and the paltry sentences are an almost open invitation to criminals looking to target innocent dog owners.
“Whilst most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to justice.
“We welcome the Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the Taskforce can deliver meaningful change that will give greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and deliver more proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves.”
Dog owners are reminded that they are unlikely to fall victim to this crime but there are steps they can take to help keep their dogs safe.
Bill added: “There are steps that people can take to help protect their dogs. A dog should never be left unsupervised, whether out and about or at home in the garden and it should have a reliable recall, so that you can always see its whereabouts.
“It is important that all dogs are microchipped, and that their details are kept up to date with their microchip database, and that information about your dog, such as its price or address, isn’t shared with strangers.”