Sussex PCC wants to understand public perception of dog theft through national survey

A national survey, designed to understand public perception of dog theft, has been launched by Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

The survey, launched in partnership with the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC), also asks residents for their thoughts on the current enforcement and prosecution of offenders.

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."

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.

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne is leading the first national conversation with the public on the issue of dog theft. Photo: Steve Robards

According to Dog Lost, the UK's largest lost and found dog service, it is estimated thefts have risen by 250 per cent, with criminal gangs involved.

The maximum prison sentence is seven years in prison but Home Secretary Priti Patel has promised to look at tougher measures to stem the ‘absolutely shocking’ recent rise in thefts.

The responses to this survey will help inform the discussions that PCCs will have on this issue nationally and allow police forces to better understand the public’s views on this crime and how they might improve their response to those concerns.

Mrs Bourne, who is leading the first national conversation with the public on this issue, said: “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, March 12. Click here to take part