The latest police figures show that dogs continue to be the biggest target for pet thieves in Northamptonshire.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to Northamptonshire Police revealed that 29 pets in total were involved in thefts or robberies across the county from June 2021 to May 2022.
This data shows a slight drop when comparing figures from June 2020 to May 2021, which shows that 34 pets were involved in thefts or robberies in the county.
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Demand for dogs over the past couple of years reached an all-time high and prices for some of the UK’s most desirable dog breeds reached their highest in recent years, according to the largest dog welfare charity in the UK, Dogs Trust.
A spokesperson for Dogs Trust said: “Given the high demand for dogs in the past couple of years and the increase in prices, it is no wonder criminals have and continue to take advantage of the situation.
“Our dogs play such a huge and important part in our lives but sadly many dogs are stolen each year, which is absolutely heartbreaking.”
The FOI asked the county’s police force for data on pet thefts between January 2019 and May 2022.
Which pets are targeted the most?
A total of 11 pet thefts have been recorded so far this year - five of which involved dogs. Other pets stolen this year include a cat, a rabbit and a fish.
Data shows that dogs were also the biggest target in 2021 with a total of 19 dogs stolen out of 33 pets in total. Other pets involved in theft that year include three fishes, two birds, a chicken, goat, guinea pig and an insect.
Dogs were also the most targeted in 2020 with 19 dogs being stolen out of 40 pets in total. Other pets stolen in 2020 include four chickens, four cats, three rabbits and two tortoises.
Statistics show the same pattern in 2019 with dogs being the most targeted. Out of 31 pet thefts that year, dogs comprised 13 in total. Other pets involved in theft include three birds, two mice, a duck and a swan.
Between January 2019 and May 2022, the dog breed targeted the most by thieves were Chihuahuas - although the FOI shows these dogs were targeted just six times.
Where are pets commonly stolen from?
Figures from this year so far show that 55 percent of pets stolen in Northamptonshire were taken from homes and 36 percent of stolen pets were taken in a public open space.
Data from 2021 reinforces that homes are targeted the most by pet thieves with 67 percent of stolen pets being taken from dwellings, followed by 24 percent being taken in a public open space.
Change social media profile to private, says police
A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said: “Dogs are not just pets, they are members of people’s families, and so we know just how devastating it is when one is stolen.
“In an ideal world we would not have to issue crime prevention advice, however sadly – there are people out there who will want to steal your furry friend to make themselves some money.
“By taking a few simple steps you can help to protect your dog – from keeping them where you can see them both at home and out and about, to making sure your social media profiles are set to private so people you don’t know can’t see your photos or work out where you live.”
Protecting your pet from theft at home
- Do not leave pets in the garden or yard unattended. Pets in front gardens are very vulnerable.
- Fit a bell or alarm to any rear or side gates; the gates should be secured with British Standard locks, locking bolts or closed shackle padlocks. See the police’s page on garden security for more information.
- The garden boundary should be secure to prevent your dog from escaping or a thief from reaching in and taking your dog out.
- Any outside kennels can also have a bell or small alarm fitted to warn you of any tampering; they should also have locks fitted.
Protecting your pet from theft when out and about
- Never leave your dog unattended in a car – especially on warm days.
- Do not leave your dog alone outside a shop - even if you are only away for a minute.
- Keep your dog on an extended lead if it is not trained to return when called.
- Vary the times and routes you take when walking your dog to prevent your dog from being targeted.
- Be careful of strangers asking you a lot of questions about your dog.
- Be wary about what details you post on social media - particularly where you live, the type of dog you have and where you walk.
- If you need to use a dog walking service or kennels, make sure you check references carefully to ensure the offer is genuine or the company is trusted.
A spokesperson for Dogs Trust added: “It is vital dogs are microchipped and owner's details are kept up to date.
“If the worst does occur and your dog is stolen, you can register your dog as ‘stolen’ on the microchip database, which gives owners the best chance of having their dog returned.”
For any help or guidance with training, visit the Dogs Trust Dog School web page.