Following a 57% increase in searches for the term ‘how to prevent your dog being stolen’ in the past year², our new study delves into the number of dog thefts in the UK in the past six years. And to help everyone keep their four-legged friends safe, we’ve shared some dog theft prevention tips.
The findings are based on insight obtained by us through Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) sent to 45 UK police constabularies³, of which 24 responded. The top ten police constabularies that logged the highest amount of dog thefts in the past six years include:
UK Police Constabulary - Total Over 6 Years
Kent - 723
Lancashire - 599
Durham - 269
Sussex - 245
Merseyside - 233
Northern Ireland - 215
Derbyshire - 214
Gwent - 210
Humberside - 208
Cleveland - 207
Our study reveals that police constabularies within these ten areas recorded 3,123 dog thefts in the past six years, with 5,000⁴ dognappings being registered among the total 24 constabularies in the same time period. Kent Police takes the top spot for the most pooch-related thefts with a staggering 723 in the six years.
From 2017 to 2021, the number of dogs stolen in South East county, Kent, increased by 34% (136 to 182). This distinct uplift could be attributed to criminals opting to steal puppies due to the demand for pedigree pups in the UK. In the first six months of 2022, Kent has recorded 79 dog thefts. With the market for dogs not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, current and potential dog owners must clue themselves up on anti-dog theft prevention.
It’s really sad to see the shocking number of dog thefts across the country. Knowing that so many pups have been ripped from their homes is unbearable, and even more so knowing that they’re likely being used for intensive breeding.
Lancashire constabulary ranks second for the most dog thefts in the past six years (599). In 2018, this North West county saw the most pup nappings (124), with slight dips in 2019 (94) and 2020 (97). Unfortunately for pet owners in Lancashire, dog stealing increased by 24% in 2021 compared to the year before (120), and in 2022, 58 dogs have been taken from their homes.
The top three breeds to be stolen within these six years in Lancashire include Staffordshire Bull Terriers (60), French Bull Dogs (44), and Chihuahuas (23). Out of the total dog thefts, 246 of the dog breeds were unspecified. For Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners, 2017 was the worst year for nappings (23).
Durham constabulary takes the third spot in our new study. Over the past six years, the North East county registered 269 dog thefts. The top three dog breeds to be stolen within this period include Lurchers (32), Jack Russells (25), and Staffordshire Bull Terriers (20). So far in 2022, Durham police have logged 7 dog thefts.
For residents in the county of Sussex, dog thefts have seen a 44% decrease between 2017 and 2021 (62 to 35). However, it’s likely that more dognappings occurred, and were not reported to Sussex Police. In 2022, 19 dogs have been stolen in the Sussex area, with a recent offence this year includes a Cocker Spaniel being stolen from a Kennel in Rye, during a nighttime raid. Thankfully, Ollie the Cocker was returned to his owners after being found in a house 45 miles away from where he’d been stolen⁵.
Merseyside Police is split into five local policing teams - Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Liverpool. From 2017 to 2022, this police constabulary logged a whopping 233 dog thefts. The top three dog breeds to be stolen within this period include Bulldogs (39), Staffordshire Bull Terriers (32), and Bull Terriers (10).
With 215 dog thefts registered by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) between 2017 and 2021, and more likely to have been left unreported, the PSNI announced in April 2022 that it will be working with a DNA expert in a bid to tackle dog thefts in region⁶. Standout thefts from our study include three Rottweiler puppies stolen in 2017, five French Bulldogs stolen in 2017, two Beagles stolen in 2018, and two Chihuahua dogs stolen in 2018.
Between 2017 to 2021, Derbyshire Police saw an increase of 136% in dog thefts (22 to 52). Not only this but new data for Derbyshire’s RSPCA shows a spike in dog cruelty in the county⁷. The dog charity attributed this to the surge in dog ownership during the pandemic, and owners not being committed to looking after their pups properly. This same reasoning could be said for the uplift in dog thefts. We urge new dog owners to understand the commitment they’re undertaking when they get a pet, ensuring they know how to keep them safe and to treat them with kindness.
Located in Wales, Gwent Police have logged a total of 210 dog thefts in the past six years, and in 2022, 32 dogs have been undeservedly taken from their homes in the area. French Bulldogs (13), Jack Russell Terriers (8), Pugs (7), and Staffordshire Bull Terriers (7) seem to be the favourite pooch breeds in this period among burglars in Gwent. Napping in this area seems to be showing no signs of slowing down, with a staggering 135% increase between 2021 and 2021.
Humberside comprises parts of the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire counties, and with scenic walks and countryside spreading across both of these areas, dog owners are of plenty. For pup owners, 2020 and 2021 were the worst years for dog thefts, with 43 going missing over this period. So far in 2022, 10 dogs have been stolen in the region.
This year alone, 26 dogs have been pinched from their families in Cleveland, and from 2017 to 2021, figures show a 135% spike in pup related robberies. With this stark increase in mind, we really encourage pet owners to consider implementing some anti-dog theft prevention in their homes, garden, and when they’re out and about with their pooch.
Dog theft prevention tips
With the number of dog thefts projected to be just as high this year, it’s essential that current pet owners, or those thinking about getting one, learn how to protect dogs from theft. Some anti-theft prevention tips include:
- Ensure your dog is microchipped, and all information stored on the chip is up to date, especially your phone number and home address.
- Popping a collar on your dog with an ID tag is also a good idea, as well as confirmation they’re microchipped. Although dogs should wear ID tags, we’d avoid putting their names on the tag as this could make it easier for thieves to lure them in.
- Keep updated photos of your dog. In the event that your dog is stolen, recent images of your dog may help the police in finding your beloved companion.
Out and about
- Choose safe walking routes and switch these up every now and then to prevent potential thieves spotting you in the same area.
- Leaving pups in the car and outside shops is also a no-go, as this is possibly the easiest win for pet thieves.
In and around the home
- Our experts recommend ensuring dogs are supervised when out in the garden and installing security gates and locks around the outdoor premises.
- CCTV may also help deter thieves, and we’d suggest installing cameras in areas where potential thieves would find a way into the home or garden.
My dog has been stolen
In the unfortunate event that your dog has been stolen, please contact your local police immediately. Be prepared to provide them with a full description of your dog and any other vital information that might help them in the search for your pup. We’d also recommend utilising social media, such as local Facebook pages, as people are generally eager to help fellow pet owners find their stolen or missing dog.
With Woofs and Wags,
Laura, Dolly & Reggie
- Search volume insight for the term ‘how to prevent your dog being stolen’ correct as of August 2022.
- Data obtained by Dragonfly Products from 24 UK police constabularies by a Freedom of Information Request on the number of dog thefts within that region. Data correct as of 2017 and 2022.
- Actual total number of dog thefts out of all 45 UK police constabularies contacted from 2017-2022 calculates to approximately 4,591.
- Belfast Live
- Derbyshire Times