2020 has been the worst ever year for dog thefts – tougher sentences are needed for pet theft.
Although this may not make national news, for many, many families what is happening to their dogs is heart-breaking. 2020 has seen an increase in dog thefts of 250 per cent in some areas.
More time at home and limitations on social contact has increased demand for dogs, with a 168pc rise in searches for puppies for sale. Sadly, criminals have capitalised on this, as the price of dogs skyrockets.
But dogs are worth far more than their monetary value. As a dog owner myself I know how vital dogs are as companions, therapists and exercise buddies – not to mention the skill of working canines such as sheep dogs and medical detection dogs. They are, for many people, part of the family.
There has been widespread and growing public support for tougher sentences for pet thieves. Pet theft is wrongly categorised as robbery or burglary – in the same category as the theft of an inanimate object – sadly, this then leads only to minimal sentences.
I'm hoping progress can be made to make pet theft a specific criminal offence. Currently, although the theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is 7 years’ imprisonment, if a case is in fact brought to court, it would most likely go to a magistrates' court, which is normally non-custodial. This can include something like a ban and fine when related to something like drink driving to a community sentence for a crime like petty theft.
This isn't good enough. There has been widespread and growing public support for tougher sentences for pet thieves. Pet theft is wrongly categorised as robbery or burglary – in the same category as the theft of an inanimate object – sadly, this then leads only to minimal sentences.