As the Leicestershire Police issue warnings of increased pet theft, Police and Crime Commissioner hopeful Rupert Matthews issues a call to arms to combat the threat to our beloved pets with firm action by police and government.
Pet theft has been a real worry for pet owners in our area recently. As the demand for pets has risen during lockdown, so has the price of pets – up around 400% on last year. That has given criminals the motive the need to steal dogs and other pets whenever they get the chance. Now we learn that the number of pet thefts in Leicestershire Police area doubled last year.
Now Rupert Matthews has called on Leicestershire Police to
- Record pet theft as a specific crime, not simply lump it together with ‘property’ theft, so that we can establish the true scale of the problem.
- Devote adequate resources to catch the organised gangs targeting our pets.
- Ensure that crime should be considered as a priority within our Regional Organised Crime Units.
- Improve public awareness of how to reduce their pet’s vulnerability to criminals.
Rupert Matthews said
“I know how much my family love our dog Mr Fluffles and would be devastated if he was stolen. Many cat and dog owners feel the same.
“Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly true that pet theft is not treated with the seriousness it deserves and reform is urgently needed. Tragically, only 1 in 5 pets that are stolen are ever returned to their owner. Only about 1% of pet thefts lead to charges. That is not good enough.
“Now I am calling on the government to take some more determined action to help our animal friends. I want the government to:
- Raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to six months to help make them less desirable.
- Bring in tougher penalties for smuggling pups to deter deceitful sellers. Only a handful of cases have ever been prosecuted and you can get a longer sentence for smuggling cigarettes than you can for smuggling puppies.
- Change sentencing guidelines to ensure our judicial system recognises the emotional and social value of our pets, so that tougher sentences can be applied in our courts. If that approach does not produce tougher sentences for pet theft, it may then be necessary to change the law”