Surge in dog thefts as gangs take advantage of soaring prices during lockdown
Dog thefts have soared as criminal gangs swoop for pets amid a surge in prices during lockdown.
Demand for certain breeds has risen after families looked for a distraction from being stuck at home since March.
Breeds in demand include cocker spaniels which are being advertised online for up to £3,500 each – double the usual amount.
Crooks are snatching large numbers of pets in raids at boarding and breeding kennels and individual households.
The number of thefts during lockdown has gone up 65 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Other breeds sought by crooks include Staffordshire bull terriers, Chihuahuas and French bulldogs.
The group DogLost, which helps reunite missing pets with their owners, had 48 reports of stolen animals from March 23 to June 1 compared to 29 last year.
Police said anecdotal evidence backed up the figures. Forces do not keep records as the crime is classed as theft of property but figures released last year after a Freedom of Information request revealed five dogs were stolen in England and Wales every day.
However, the real figure is suspected to be twice that – or 70 a week – as victims often do not contact police.
Seventeen dogs and puppies were grabbed in a raid at kennels in Barton Mills, Suffolk, this month.
Cambridgeshire Police have recorded 17 dog thefts in the past two months, including a West Highland terrier, Jack Russell and Chihuahua-cross taken from kennels in Stretham.
Another raid saw 22 cockapoos snatched from kennels in Tarleton, Lancashire, in May.
Two litters of puppies were taken, along with adult dogs. A cockapoo puppy found dead on the grounds is believed to have been run over by the getaway vehicle.