Organised criminals turning to pet theft amid boom in demand for puppies
Organised criminals are turning to dog theft amid a rise in demand for puppies during lockdown, police have warned.
Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said the increase in potential profits had made the illegal trade more attractive to hardened lawbreakers.
The charity DogLost saw reported pet thefts rise from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.
Ms Blackman, who is the NPCC lead for acquisitive crime, said: “Dog theft can be a devastating crime for families and causes considerable distress to owners.
“Whilst it is still a very rare crime, it’s sadly something we have seen increasing recently.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, criminals have adjusted their activities and are taking advantage of the big demand for pets over the lockdown period.
“The cost of a puppy has considerably increased over the past year making this a lucrative market for organised criminals to exploit.”
She warned pet owners to be careful posting pictures of their new puppy on social media, and for buyers to consider where the animal had come from.
Recent cases of suspected dog theft include the discovery of several English bulldog puppies at a home in Wigan.
Greater Manchester Police arrested three people after a member of the public saw someone carrying seven puppies into the house.
In Wales, Dyfed-Powys Police found 80 dogs at a property in Carmarthenshire that are thought to have been stolen.
Two people have been arrested and so far 30 of the animals have been returned to their owners.
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