More than 440 precious pets have been reported stolen from their homes across south-east London in the past five years, an analysis has revealed.

However, the number of animals taken by thieves has fallen by more than half since 2014.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police have shown that 443 animals, ranging from domestic dogs and cats all the way to reptiles and insects, have been purposefully led astray between April 2014 and 2019.

Bromley was the worst area for the offence with 184 animals reported stolen since 2014, the most popular animal being birds with 63 of them pinched during the same period.

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Pet poachers in Greenwich were mainly after dogs with 51 pooches taken out of 109 animals reported stolen to police.

Lewisham saw similar behaviour with dogs topping the list as 56 were taken during the same timeframe. 103 animals were reported as stolen altogether within the borough.

Bexley had the lowest number of stolen animals with only 47 noted in the last five years with all manner of creatures taken, including three insects reported taken in October 2017.

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However, only 43 of animals reported stolen within those years were recovered and returned to their owners.

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The latest figures reflect a massive dip in animal theft cases across all SE London boroughs compared to the year previous, with 49 animals reported last year compared to the 152 reported the year previous.

Speaking on this decrease, Louise Lee from the national animal charity,

Blue Cross

said: "It is impossible to say why there was a drop in crimes involving pet theft in these areas, we just have to hope that it doesn’t go back on the rise.

"Whatever the reason, we know the impact on each individual owner behind the statistics is absolutely devastating and the grief and pain can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

"To help prevent becoming a victim, take a few steps such as altering the routes of your dog walks, never leave a pet tied outside a shop or alone in the car and make sure they are microchipped to increase your chances of being reunited if the worse happens."