In the week when an armed man dognapped Lady Gaga’s pet pooches, police chiefs are asking for people in Brighton and Hove for their views about the rising number of dog thefts.
The Sussex police and crime commissioner has started a national survey in partnership with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.
She said that the aim was to understand public perception of dog theft, enforcement and the prosecution of offenders.
The Home Secretary Priti Patel is currently reviewing the issue of pet theft and what future enforcement may look like with potentially tougher penalties for perpetrators.
Mrs Bourne said that the responses to the survey would help inform the discussions that police and crime commissioners would have nationally.
They would allow police forces to better understand the public’s views on this crime and how they might improve their response to those concerns.
Demand for dogs as pets has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. The cost of some puppies, on Pets4Homes, is currently as high as £3,000, making them a valuable commodity to criminals.
According to Dog Lost, Britain’s largest lost and found dog service, it is estimated thefts have risen by 250 per cent, with criminal gangs involved.
Mrs Bourne said: “Pet theft, dog theft in particular, is a growing concern for the public and their fear has been perpetuated over the last couple of weeks with shocking reports in the media of more dogs being snatched by criminals.
“I am incredibly eager to get more detail around this issue and understand residents’ views and if they feel more could be done to respond to their concerns or for more preventative measures to be put in place to better protect their pets.
“I’m pleased to see the Home Secretary recognising the devastating impact of this crime and I hope that the results of this survey will give the government the evidence it needs to take more robust action against perpetrators.”
Sussex Police recorded 31 dog thefts in 2020 but at least 12 of those were disputes over dog ownership between known parties.
Inspector Andrea Leahy, from the Sussex Police Rural Crime Team, said: “We support this national survey and the team are working tirelessly to collate information and intelligence on this worrying crime.
“We have dedicated officers covering the county who review every report that comes into us.
“We would like to encourage the public to report all suspicious circumstances and read our crime prevention advice on our website.
“We are dedicated to keeping your pets safe and target any persons believed to be involved in this distressing crime.”
The 60-second survey will be open until 5pm on Friday 12 March.
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