'Every report is heartbreaking': Police warning for pet owners after alarming rise in stolen dogs across Northamptonshire
How to keep your loved one safe from crooks exploiting demand during pandemic
Police are warning dog owners to be on their guard following a spike in pet thefts across the county.
The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance has seen a whopping 170 per cent jump in dog thefts nationwide during lockdown.
Detectives believe crooks are looking to cash in on growing numbers of people looking to buy a puppy or dog.
One emotional appeal posted to the SAMPA website came from a distraught owner of a French Bulldog puppy who was picked up and carried off by a stranger in Northampton town centre on Sunday.
PC Michelle Clapson, of the Rural Crime Team, admitted: “We understand people’s dogs are part of the family and every report we receive is heartbreaking.
"These dogs are people’s companions and every theft leaves a family devastated.
“With demand for dogs still really high, we’re sharing advice with owners to keep their beloved pets safe, and also sharing advice to help those looking for a new dog to do so responsibly.”
“By taking a few simple steps you can help to protect your furry friend – from keeping them where you can see them both at home and out and about, to making sure your social media profiles are set to private so people you don’t know can’t see your photos or work out where you live.”
Other cases that are being investigated by detectives include:
■ Just last week, Derbyshire Police launched an appeal in Northamptonshire after one of eight stolen Dachshunds turned up on the M1.
■ In January, five bulldog puppies were found safe and well after being taken from a Wellingborough home.
■ A springer spaniel stolen from a yard at a property in Harrington on January 28.
■ A dachshund dog and puppy stolen from a home in Northampton during a pre-arranged viewing of the puppy
Five bulldog puppies were found safe and well after being taken from a Wellingborough home during January and last month a cocker spaniel was also returned to its owner after being stolen from a kennel at a property in Harpole.
Other reports called in to Northamptonshire Police have included of pets and working dogs being taken from homes and gardens.
Alongside advice on keeping pets safe, police also urder potential owners to only buy puppies from reputable breeders or dealers.
PC Clapson added: "When buying a puppy or dog, make sure you do your research.
"A good breeder should be as curious about you as you are of them. Walk away if it does not look or feel right and let us know."
Anyone needing help or support from the Rural Crime Team on crime prevention around dog thefts can email [email protected]
Advice to help keep your dog safe at home
■ Practise good home security – keep doors locked even when you are at home.
■ Ensure all your microchip details are up to date.
■ If your dogs are kept outside in a kennel, consider bringing them inside your home.
■ If your dogs must live outside, fit locks on kennels that are type-approved by Secured by Design, or available on the Sold Secure website.
■ Install CCTV, consider motion cameras that send alerts to your mobile phone. Fit PIR sensor alarms and lighting.
■ Consider setting up boundary alarms and door alarms.
■ Do not advertise your dogs on social media. Check your profile settings and ensure your photos and information aren’t visible to people you’re not already friends with.
Advice for out and about
■ When out walking with your dog, ensure that they are either on a secure lead, or close by.
■ Don’t leave them tied up alone outside shops or in your car unattended.
■ Always have a mobile phone with you.
■ Be aware of your surroundings and any suspicious activity, such as anyone paying particular attention to your dog or asking questions.
■ Report all suspicious incidents to the police. Note registration numbers of vehicles, take good descriptions and photos if it is safe to do so.
If you have any concerns then please report to the RSPCA, your local Trading Standards team or the police by calling 101 or reporting online at northants.police.uk