New statistics show that London is one of the UK’s dog theft hotspots, 14 per cent of all dog thefts nationally happened in the capital in 2020.
Yet less than 10 per cent of dog theft crimes in London led to criminal charges in 2020 and in almost half of cases, a suspect was never identified
Freedom of Information statistics reveal 196 cases of dog theft every month nationally, up seven per cent on 2019.
The statistics show there were an estimated 2,355 cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a 7 per cent increase on 2019 (2,199).
In London there were 318 dog thefts in 2020 – the second highest in the UK after the North West – and just 29 criminal charges.
No suspect was identified in almost half (46 per cent) of these reported dog theft cases in the capital, and in 17 per cent a suspect was identified but no action was taken, due to ‘evidential difficulties’.
The statistics are revealed 79 days after the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce was established (8 May) to help tackle the issue – in which time another 508 dogs have been stolen.
The Kennel Club is urging more transparent recording of pet theft on a central database, so that underlying causes of dog theft can be tackled and for the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing.
“Dog theft has devastating consequences for both the owners and the animals involved and it is quite frankly jaw-dropping that 98 per cent of cases never result in a criminal charge and in more than half, no suspect is ever identified,” said Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel Club.
Amongst the actions being called for as part of The Kennel Club’s ‘Paw and Order: Dog Theft Reform’ campaign is for more resources to be allocated to this crime and for more transparent, centralised collection of data about pet theft, including the number of crimes, arrests and convictions.
Currently, there is no central record in order to help decision makers understand the scale of the problem or the circumstances around it.
The Kennel Club is also calling for a reclassification of how dog theft is treated in the law, as currently sentencing provisions place undue weighting on the monetary value of the pet rather than giving sufficient weight to the emotional impact of the crime.
This means it is often treated in the same way as the theft of a laptop or mobile phone, rather than as a category one offence, which carries a maximum of seven years in prison in England and Wales.
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