Facts about Dog Theft

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In their 2019 peer-reviewed paper, Dr Daniel Allen, Adam Peacock (both Keele University) and Jamie Arathoon (University of Glasgow) found there had been an increase in dog theft crimes, with 1559 in 2015, 1653 in 2016 (+6.03%), and 1842 in 2017 (+11.43%), and a decrease in court charges related to dog theft crimes, with 64 (3.97%) in 2015, 51 (3.08%) in 2016, and 39 (2.11%) in 2017. 

The study also revealed police force inconsistencies in recording dog theft crime, which meant some data were unusable or could not be accessed or analysed. Allen et al (2019) recommended a standardised and transparent approach to recording the theft of a dog by all forces across England and Wales, and classifying dog theft (or pet theft more generally) as a crime in itself under the Sentencing Guidelines associated with the Theft Act 1968.

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FOI research by Allen (2019) found that recorded dog theft crimes had risen to 1,849 in 2018. Overall, only 1% of dog theft crime cases investigated resulted in a charge in England and Wales.

Allen (2019) found the police forces with the most dog theft crimes in 2018 were: Metropolitan (London) (256), West Yorkshire (167), Greater Manchester (145), Merseyside (117), and Kent (108).


For 2019, FOI research by Allen (2020) found that only 19 dog theft crimes resulted in charges out of a total of 1,575 crimes. Greater Manchester, Hampshire, North Wales, Thames Valley, Wiltshire did not supply data.

The BBC reported a 250% increase in dog theft crimes in Suffolk, comparing January to July 2019 and 2020. Sky News reported this as a national figure - this incorrect percentage has since been quoted across national and international media. 


There was not a 250% national increase in dog theft crimes or stolen dogs in 2020. 

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The number of stolen dogs (with a Crime Reference Number) registered on the DogLost website raised from 172 in 2019 to 465 in 2020 - a 170% increase.

Dr Daniel Allen and Dr Helen Selby-Fell (2021) are working on new dog theft research. You'll see preliminary findings on this website first.


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