Pet theft around Britain has increased by 250% since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest reports.
What will you do to keep your dog safe from harm? Check out ex-police detective Mark Randell’s top tips.
1. If it happens to you, remember you are not at fault. It is easy to blame yourself and what you should or shouldn’t have done, but it is the criminal who is to blame, not you.
2. There are some basic crime prevention ideas, as with anything that has financial or sentimental value. Make gardens secure and don’t leave dogs alone outside. Keep your eyes on you dogs when walking and try and vary your routes. Keep dogs on leads or under your control.
3. Specifically with pets, check microchip and passport details are up to date. Keep photos on your phone with identifying marks. There are 15 different databases in the UK and vets don’t always scan animals they see. Ask if your vet does this, and if not, why not?
4. Don’t share locations of your dogs on social media, particularly your home address. Check your phone settings for ‘Location Services’. Are you inadvertently telling thieves where your dog lives?
5. If you use a kennels, pet carer or groomer then check what security they have in place to prevent pet theft.
6. Help and support campaigns like Pet Theft Reform that are lobbying to change the law. Currently this is not a separate crime and might be recorded in many different ways. Punishments, if caught, are minimal. There are always petitions to sign and writing to your MP keeps the pressure on. Ask your Police and Crime Commissioner what your force is doing about pet theft.
7. If it happens to you, this will be a hugely emotional time. Don’t panic. Ask friends and family to help. Record the crime with police, reach out to dog wardens, local media, research social media. Check neighbours and CCTV they may have. Contact DogLost.co.uk.
8. Get a crime number. If refused, or you are not happy with the investigation, then ask police for a ‘victim right to review’.
9. Report all suspicious behaviour, anything that doesn’t look right in your neighbourhood; strange vans, people out of place. Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
10. Try not to be worried. Yes, there are increasing numbers of thefts, but most dogs don’t get stolen. Enjoy your dog, love them and the time you have with them.