UK police forces recorded a 13 per cent rise in dog theft crimes during 2020, an investigation by NationalWorld can reveal.
However Lincolnshire saw a drop. In 2020 there were six dog thefts in Lincolnshire, while there was 20 in 2019 and 16 in 2018.
Out of the six incidents last year, four identified no suspect, one suspect was identified but the victim didn’t support further action and one was charged with an alternative offence.
This investigation was undertaken amid mounting concern the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in puppy thefts and dognappings.
NationalWorld sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all 46 police forces in the UK and these show there were 1,208 thefts recorded in 2020 by the 29 police forces that responded, a 13 per cent increase from the 1,068 reported in 2019.
Pet-theft charity DogLost said earlier this year that it had recorded a 170 per cent increase in stolen dogs reported on its website.
The charity Dogs Trust says there is “no wonder dog theft is on the increase” given the high demand and the rise in prices over the past year.
A spokesman said: “Many dogs are taken from homes and gardens every year so we would urge all dog owners to make sure their gardens are secure along with their homes and ideally never leave your dog alone in thegarden.
“We would also advise that owners should never leave their dog unattended when out and about, always keep them in sight and also make sure they are trained to come back to you, however distracted they might be.”
The RSPCA said it was “really concerning” to see evidence of increased thefts in some parts of the UK, and urged owners to report incidents to the police immediately.
A spokesman said: “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.”