The number of stolen dogs has risen for the 4th consecutive year according to a freedom of information report that included data from 76% of police forces in the UK.
There were 1,959 dog thefts in 2018, 80 more than in 2017 - a significant increase given that fewer police forces responded to the freedom of information request for stolen pet cases this year.
The most dog theft crimes were reported in London and West Yorkshire and the least by Cheshire Constabulary.
Some of these crimes may have consisted of two or more pets being stolen, as the data only accounted for the number of crimes, not the number of pets.
If you're concerned about dog theft, pet insurance can pay for a reward and posters if your dog goes missing. And if your dog isn't recovered it can cover the amount you paid for it. Check out our guide to the best pet insurance companies here.
You can also try to locate your dog with pet tracking devices.
Most common dog breeds stolen
Here are the most stolen breeds in 2018, according to Direct Line Group's analysis of the freedom of information report.
|Breed of dog||Number of dog thefts reported|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||88|
Staffies were top of the list in 2017 as well, having been stolen 172 times, followed by Jack Russells at 52.
Some argue that Staffies are stolen more often than other pets because of their amicable personalities and because they adapt well to new homes and even new owners. Moreover, they are a popular breed and puppies can be sold at a relatively high price, meaning female Staffies are highly desired.
Unfortunately, some police forces were unable to provide data on specific breeds, meaning the numbers may be even higher for some breeds.
Places with the most dogs stolen
Some areas of the UK are at a higher risk of dognapping than others. We've collected data from Blue Cross below to show the 12 areas at the highest risk of dognapping.
|County||Number of dog thefts reported|
|London (Metropolitan Police Service)||304|
|Manchester (Greater Manchester Police)|
|South Yorkshire Police||91|
|Thames Vallery Police||85|
|Devon and Cornwall Police|
Again, some of these figures reflect the number of crimes committed, not the number of pets stolen. This means that more pets may have been stolen in some of these areas than has been recorded.
How dog theft can be prevented
Blue Cross offers some advice for how you can help to prevent the theft of your pet:
- Keep an eye on your dog when it’s in the garden and make sure fences and gates are secure and in good repair
- Don’t let your dog sit at the window in view of passers-by
- Don’t leave your dog alone in the car or tied up
- Take photographs of your dog from different angles to help prove ownership
- Train your dog to come back to you when called, or keep it on a lead if in doubt
- Beware of strangers asking questions about your dog
- Microchip your pet to make it easier to identify if it does get stolen
What to do if your dog does get stolen
If the worst happens and your dog does get stolen, there are a few things you can do to try to recover it. First, report the crime to the police. You should then try to contact your local animal warden and any rescue centres. If your pet escapes or is dumped, these are the places it will most likely be.
If you have pet insurance, contact your insurer because they may be able to offer advice to help find it and pay for a reward and posters.
Finally, utilise social media. Post pictures of your pet on social networks like Facebook and Twitter and ask people to keep a lookout.
How to secure your home against burglars
There are some simple techniques you can use to better secure your home against any potential thieves:
- Fit key-operated locks to all downstairs and easy-access windows
- Lock all the doors and windows every time you leave the house – even when you’re in the garden
- Hide all keys out of sightInstall a burglar alarm and install lighting outside
- Consider joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
- Consider replacing glass door panels with a stronger laminated glass
Other methods of ensuring your pet's safety
Insurance will probably be the last thing you're thinking of if your pet is stolen, but yours may offer lost or stolen cover. This could pay out if your pet is stolen or runs away, which could help towards the cost of finding it.
As well as taking all the necessary precautions and making sure your insurance policy includes loss and theft cover, you might want to consider a GPS pet tracker. These either attach to your pet’s collar or act as a replacement collar.
They are usually robust enough to withstand your dog’s rough activities and are generally waterproof to an extent.
There are other trackers, such as Trackershop, Tractive, Podtracker, PawTrax and WÜF.
Trackershop, Tractive and Podtracker connect to your smartphone and allow you to see your pet’s location on an app. They also allow you to set up ‘safe zones’. If your pet leaves these zones you will receive a notification.
Others, such as PawTrax, contain a SIM card. If you lose your pet you send a text to the gadget and it replies with the coordinates of your pet.
Finally, some, such as WÜF, act as a collar for your pet. These not only give you the location of your pet via an app and can also be used to train your pet by playing pre-recorded voice commands.