Police are warning dog owners to be careful about posting pictures of their pets on social media or leaving them out of stores.
The number of dog thefts in England and Wales continues to rise.
Last year there was a boom in people buying dogs mainly due to lockdown and the fact that people were home more often than usual.
However, UK charity DogLost UK saw dog thefts increase by 170% – from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 dogs in 2020.
Detective Superintendent Neil Austin, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Department of Occupational Crime, said, “The advice I would give from a police perspective is to be aware of social media.
“People share pictures of their dogs and puppies on social media and very often don’t have the correct privacy settings. They use tags that obviously show where they live. This is something to be aware of.”
Det Austin says there are two types of dog theft crimes.
“One is the opportunists where they see and steal a dog on their own. And the other is the more organized element where they approach breeders or people who sell puppies online.”
He also said owners should avoid leaving their pets alone in public whenever possible – even if it only takes a few minutes.
“You shouldn’t leave your dog unattended and people still leave their dog tied up outside a shop,” he said.
“And look around your house too, make sure you have home security and video surveillance and that the gates to the garden are locked. All of these basic security measures you can take to reduce the chances of that.” Your pet is stolen, “he continued.
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Justine Quirk of DogLost commented, “In March last year, due to the lockdown, many people thought this would be the best time to introduce a dog to the family. The demand grew very high and some people bought them online without asking the careful background questions you would normally ask with a personal purchase.
“When some people got wind of how expensive these dogs were, there was an increase in dog theft from people realizing how valuable a commodity they were.”
Justine owns two Cockapoo dogs and she says their value has increased since she bought them: “” And now when I walk them both they are worth so much more than I had £ 6,000 on mine Wrist. “
According to DogLost, the most popular breeds that are stolen are cocker spaniels and springer spaniels.