Their dedicated Rural Crime Team (RCT) is tackling this devastating crime by working closely with partner agencies, gathering intelligence and highlighting crime prevention among the dog owning community. Reports of dog theft are thankfully relatively low in Sussex but police do ask dog owners to take necessary steps to keep them safe.
Sussex Police recorded 31 dog thefts in 2020, but at least 12 of those were disputes over dog ownership between known parties. The 19 remaining cases include:
- Six typical thefts where there is evidence dogs were taken by a third party unknown to the victim.
- Six cases where it is believed dogs were lost rather than stolen.
- Three cases where the victim has ceased engaging with police and it is unknown if the dog has been found.
- In seven cases dogs were recovered after being located nearby or at a vets.
You can protect your dog from being stolen or getting lost by:
- Ensuring your pet is microchipped and registered with up-to-date information.
- Investing in a collar and name tag, and use your surname rather than your pet’s name on name tags. Make sure to include your telephone number so you can be easily contacted if your pet is found. Your dog should always wear a collar and ID tag as this is a legal requirement when your dog is in a public place.
- Taking plenty of clear photos of your pet and remember to include any distinctive markings that could identify them.
- Not leaving your dog unattended in the garden, the car or outside shops if at all possible.
- Review your social media security settings, and be careful with the details you share, especially when it comes to your pets, your location or your favourite walking spots.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and know where your dog is at all times when out walking. Be mindful of anyone trying to distract you or draw your dog’s attention away from you. If you feel that someone is following or watching you and your dog in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, move away from them and call the police.
- We know that some dogs may live in kennels outside. Please ensure you make it as hard as possible for someone to break in. Use multiple locks and have CCTV cameras covering the kennel as a deterrent.
- Ensure all gates are locked at top and bottom with a shoot bolt and padlock.
- Ensure gardens and yards are secure so that no one can gain entry or pull your dog out. Make sure fences and hedges are secure, with no gaps that a dog can squeeze through.
- Consider driveway alarms and CCTV – these can act as a visual as well as a physical deterrent.
If you believe your dog has been stolen or you have concerns about suspicious behaviour, report it to Sussex Police online or by calling 101.
You also need to notify your microchip database provider immediately and advise your local dog warden.