Dog thieves warned ‘we will come after you’ as first dedicated dog theft officer appointed

Nottinghamshire Police have reportedly become the first force to appoint a dedicated officer to tackle dog theft.

The announcement comes as the UK recognises ‘pet theft awareness week’, a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the devastation caused by thieves stealing pets.

Safety and preventative tips have also been shared, with the Countryside Alliance reissuing its working dog theft awareness guide.

Dog theft is an ongoing issue that has seen a dramatic rise in the number of reported incidents up and down the country.

With the demand for dogs skyrocketing as the country went into a nationwide lockdown, dog theft has become an increasingly prevalent and worrying issue for many.

Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford said the move to introduce the specialist officer should send a clear message that this type of crime would not be tolerated.

It comes as part of a package of measures after a survey revealed dog owners are increasingly fearful over their pets’ safety following growing cases of dog theft across the country during the pandemic.

3-point plan

Nottinghamshire’s deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPPC) Emma Foody, who launched the survey, has outlined a three-point plan to tackle dog theft in the county and beyond.

It comprises:
  • Chief Inspector Amy Styles-Jones being appointed as dog theft lead in Nottinghamshire Police;
  • A renewed focus on safety advice for owners, with new video guidance from Nottinghamshire Police’s dog section advising owners how to keep their pet safe;
  • A ‘Canine Coalition’ to tackle the issue, with dog welfare organisations working together to tackle the scourge of theft and demand government action on tougher sentences. Guide Dogs for the Blind has already pledged its support.

Sarah Lee, head of policy at the Countryside Alliance said: “This is an incredibly welcome move by Nottinghamshire Police and if anything, shows that they are treating this matter very seriously.

We have all been horrified by the growing number of devastating stories from across the country in relation to thieves targeting dogs and, in some cases, the level of sophistication used is chilling.

“Other police forces should monitor the developments in Nottinghamshire and think about whether they should be following suit.”

Only recently, Torpoint Police in Cornwall shared a warning on social media urging dog owners to be cautious of dog thieves posing as RSPCA officers.

The warning came after reports of a chilling new tactic being used in Kent. It has been reported that thieves are driving around in a white van with fake RSPCA stickers and branding.

According to DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog theft, “dognappings” have risen from 172 in 2019 to 465 in 2020, a rise of 170%.

Nottinghamshire’s Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “I want to send a clear message to those who seek to carry out this cold-hearted crime that it will not be tolerated, it is taken very seriously and we will come after you.”