Estimates suggest that around 2,000 incidents of dog theft were reported to police forces across England and Wales in 2020.
In response to the thefts, a taskforce was setup and it has now recommended a number of interventions to the 3 Secretaries of State for Defra, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. See Pet theft taskforce report – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
A new ‘pet abduction’ offence will recognise that animals are different from inanimate objects through the creation of a new criminal offence, or through a change to sentencing practice.
Commenting on the news that pet abduction is to be made a criminal offence in England, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott said:
Making the theft of pets a specific criminal offence is the right move, and I hope the government brings forward the legislation to make it happen as soon as possible.
There has been an increase in the abduction of dogs and other animals during the pandemic and tackling this has been a priority for me since my election.
Since becoming the Commissioner, I have arranged for North Yorkshire Police to have an experienced senior officer leading the work to combat dog thieves and protect pets, and Inspector Neil Drummond is the first dogs theft officer to be appointed in the UK. It is vital that he, and all in the police and justice system, have the powers they need to tackle this underreported crime that devastates families.