During 2020 dog thefts in the U.K increased by a distressing 250%. 

Due to the pandemic people have been spending much more time at home and this has driven up the demand for puppies. As demand increased so did price, with some puppies’ value quadrupling to over £2000. This huge surge in price has led to some criminals capitalizing off of this, trying to steal puppies to sell off as their own or older dogs which they can then breed and sell the litters for vast amounts of money. 

If you are a regular dog walker or frequent user of neighborhood apps such as ‘Next-door’ you too may have heard about this rise. 'Nextdoor' for example, contains many accounts of walkers who have had close encounters with supposed dog thieves, with people describing being harrassed by strangers and asked pointed questions about their dog's gender, age, and neuter/spayed status. 

In London the thefts or attempts are most commonly seen in neighborhood parks with areas such as Clapham common, Wandsworth common and Wimbledon common being popular targets. Many dog walkers in these areas now feel more nervous when out and about walking their dog with one walker – Katie Lelliott- saying: 

“I’ve been hearing much more about dog thefts on the common, my parents don’t like me walking Josie (their dog) alone now and we almost always walk in pairs.” 

“We also always make sure she’s wearing a reflective vest so we can see her at all times – that’s a recent change as well.” 

Campaigners against dog theft say that the penalties for dog theft remains staggeringly low as dogs under the theft act 1968 are treated as someone’s property. Campaigners against this are calling for dog theft to be classed as a specific crime and for the penalties to be made higher. So far, over half a million people have petitioned for this. 

To help prevent your dog being taken there are many steps you can take such as improving your dog’s recall, walking with a friend, not leaving your dog outside shops, and most importantly making sure your dog is micro chipped.