Dog thefts: Nottinghamshire Police appoint officer to investigate amid rising cases

·2-min read

A police force is responding to rising numbers of dog thefts in the UK by employing a specialist officer to investigate them.

The new role will be focused on canine crime, Nottinghamshire Police said.

Concern over such thefts is growing and last month Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to look at measures to tackle "absolutely shocking" pet thefts and to "go after" the thieves who are profiting from the crime.

Nottinghamshire's deputy police and crime commissioner Emma Foody said: "There is growing alarm - both locally and nationally - over the threat of dog theft.

"This has been fuelled by a number of distressing incidents which have eroded public confidence," she added.

Chief Inspector Amy Styles-Jones, appointed the dog theft lead, has three pet chihuahuas called Tink, Jasper and Josie.

She said: "As an animal lover myself I relish the prospect of ensuring we take a compassionate response to the developing situation in regards to dog theft and any animal cruelty."

Criminal gangs have been cashing in on an exploding demand for puppies driven by the pandemic lockdown, Sky News reported in January.

Pedigree dogs are being stolen and used for intensive breeding after prices quadrupled because of the desire for a COVID companion, police said, noting the average cost has risen from "£500 to more than £2,000."

The same month, the daughter of a man suffering from depression and anxiety told how he had been violently assaulted by thieves who snatched his beloved sprocker spaniel.

Mike Jasper's daughter Lucinda said two men "attacked him and punched him in the back, shoved him to the ground and stood on his hand so he had to let go of the lead".

A study in August found average prices for dachshunds, one of the most popular breeds, had risen by 89% to £1,838 between March and June last year, according to the Dogs Trust.

By reviewing advertisements from the last three years on some of the UK's largest classified advertising websites, the trust found prices for pugs, dachshunds and chow chows have never been higher.

Last month, Lady Gaga's dog walker survived after being shot by a gang who stole two of her French bulldogs while he was walking them in Los Angeles.

More than 250,000 people signed an online parliamentary petition to make dog theft a specific criminal offence in January, although no date has yet been set for the measure to be debated.