Dog thefts on the increase in South Yorkshire

Matt Duffy, from South Yorkshire Police
Matt Duffy, from South Yorkshire Police

Dog thefts are on the increase in South Yorkshire - with nearly 100 reported stolen last year.

South Yorkshire Police figures reveal there were 96 dogs reported stolen across the county in 2016, up from 69 in 2015 and 71 in 2014.

There were 30 found and returned to their owners in both 2016 and 29015 and16 in 2014.

Direct Line Pet Insurance obtained figures from police forces across the country and found that five dogs a day are reported stolen nationally, with 1,774 dogs reported to have been taken last year - a 19 per cent increase compared to 2014, when 1,491 thefts were reported.

The police forces which recorded the highest number of dog thefts last year were the Metropolitan Police, West Yorkshire Police and Greater Manchester Police.

But it is believed that the actual number of dogs stolen every year is much greater than the cases reported.

Over the last three years, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has been the breed of dog stolen the most, with 634 thefts reported to police forces across the country between 2014 and 2016.

There has been a sharp increase in the thefts of French Bulldogs reported over the last three years, rising from eight in 2014 to 24 in 2016 , while the theft of pugs has risen from four to 36 over the same period.

Temporary Sergeant Matt Duffy, of South Yorkshire Police's 'Status Dog Team,' said: “We are aware there has been an increase in the number of reports of stolen dogs made to the police over the past five years and the figures gathered as part of this latest analysis show a significant increase in the last 12 months.

“For many people, dogs are an integral part of the family and the theft of a pet can be massively upsetting and distressing.

“Although we can’t identify any one specific reason for this increase, we are asking everyone who owns a dog to take extra steps in order to keep them safe.

“Based on the work we have done with partner agencies, it has been acknowledged that some high value dogs and rare breeds have been stolen for the monetary gain and reward. However, in some cases, dogs have been lost or have strayed from their homes.

“Whenever a dog theft is reported to police, we crime all of these instances and based upon the information we receive, a course of action will be taken and if there are any lines of enquiry these will always be investigated.

“Given that police forces across the country are operating with fewer resources and facing higher demand, there are some simple steps dog owners can take to keep themselves and their pet safe.

“General advice we issue to owners is to ensure your home and garden are secure, avoid leaving your dog for long periods of time on their own, ensure your dog has been registered and chipped, and don’t leave your dogs unattended in public places.

“You wouldn’t leave other valuables items unattended or in an unsecure place so please don’t do the same with your dog.

“Police will take all steps to return stolen dogs to their owners and punish the perpetrators of these crimes."

Call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.