You worry about your car being stolen, your house broken into, your phone being swiped – but did you know dog thefts are frighteningly common? In 2020 alone, mostly during lockdown, almost 2500 dogs were stolen – that’s 7 a day!
New research released by Direct Line shows there’s been a 31% increase in dog thefts over the last 5 years. Labradors and Spaniels seem to be increasing in popularity, with Staffordshire Bull Terriers continuing to take the top spot.
It’s likely that the lockdown is the cause for this sharp rise in dog thefts. Further research from Direct Line found that 2.2 million people bought or adopted a dog between March and September 2020. The lockdown order means more people were at home, only leaving the house once a day, meaning their movements were becoming predicable and therefore easier for the thieves to target.
It’s unclear the motive behind dog thefts; likely financial gain from selling on, breeding, or fighting. Sadly, only about 25% of these pets have been/will be reunited with their owners.
So how can you protect your pooch?
Don’t tie them up
It can be inconvenient if you’re out with your dog but you need to pop into the shop. Not many shops will allow you to bring your pet in, so tying them up outside is the only option. However, this gives an opportunistic theft the perfect chance to strike. Take a drink/snack with you rather than stopping off, and eliminate the possibility of this happening.
Don’t expose your location
Facebook check-ins are a fun way to keep your friends and family informed of your movements. By checking in at your favourite coffee shop or dog park, and including a photo/details of your dog being with you, you’re advertising an easy catch. If you want to post your location your post is set to ‘friends only’ and your profile is private.
(If you tag yourself at a public location such as Starbucks, it can still be public to those who follow Starbucks, even if your profile is private.)
Further to this, avoid posting too many pictures and details of your pet on social media, as potential thieves can look for a pattern in places you visit to track you down.
In the UK, it is the law that all dogs must be microchipped so that should they be lost or stolen, they can easily be traced back to you. Make sure you keep the details up to date. It’s also helpful to put your details on the dog collar, so it is even easier to contact you without a trip to the vets to scan the chip. However, do not include the dog’s name on the collar as potential thieves can lure dogs away by calling their name, and seem innocent doing so.
Change your routine
Especially during the lockdowns, it was easy to get into a routine of visiting the same places at the same time every day. Thieves can learn this routine and follow you and your pet; learning the most opportune moments to strike. By changing up your routine, it makes it less likely that someone will know your whereabouts at any time, putting you at less risk.