Research

Dog Theft: What can we infer from the evidence so far?

February 23, 2021

Dr Daniel Allen started working with Dr Helen Selby-Fell during late 2020 and they have formulated plans for collaborative academic research to explore dog theft. The aim of the research is to help to build the ‘evidence base’ and inform the development of the policing (and wider) response to dog theft in the UK. The research team also includes Professor Ken Pease, Adam Peacock and Jamie Arathoon.

 

The researchers are currently examining the ‘extent and nature’ of dog theft in the UK (building on the earlier work of Dr Allen). The researchers are bringing together a range of different data sources to build up a clearer picture of the problem across the UK. The full extent and nature of dog theft is not yet clear, and there is currently a lack of research exploring this. The researchers stress the importance of treating police recorded crime data on dog crime with caution as there are a range of limitations associated with how it is recorded and collated. A range of other sources of data need to be collected and analysed in order to get a fuller picture of the extent of dog theft, and to identify trends and patterns across the UK.

 

In addition, the researchers are analysing interviews with victims of dog theft to explore the impact it has had on them. This will build upon existing research that shows that victims of dog theft experience feelings of loss, grief or mourning, with many victims suffering from severe psychological or physiological effects after their dog was stolen (for example, research conducted by the Dogs Trust in 2018).

 

Later in 2021 the researchers are planning to extend their research to explore prevention opportunities, better understand the profile and behaviours of offenders (for example possible links to organised crime), and further develop their work on ‘victim impact’. It is envisaged that the research will be designed and conducted in collaboration with UK police forces, animal charities and related organisations (with relevant expertise/ interest). The research team welcome interest from police forces, OPCCs and other organisations - and will be seeking to collaborate in their future research.

 

A summary of the researchers’ early findings and plans for further research can be found in the document below.

 

 

 

 

'FOI Research: Data Requests to Police Forces by Dr Daniel Allen' was submitted as written evidence for Government Petition 300071: ‘Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences.’

October 12, 2020

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April 30,  2019

Dogs are considered property under U.K. law, while owners generally regard their canine companions as family. Reports that the number of stolen dogs in England and Wales rose from 1788 in 2016 to 1909 in 2017 led to public calls to change the law. Recognising that a more robust analysis of dog theft crime statistics is required, we gathered dog theft data for 2015, 2016, and 2017 from 41 of 44* police forces (*includes British Transport Police).

 

This paper examines how dog theft crime statistics are constructed, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of these data, and categorises, maps, and measures dog theft changes temporally per police force in England and Wales. Our findings reveal there has been an increase in dog theft crimes, with 1559 thefts 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 actual number of dog theft crimes will be higher as three forces could not supply useable data. There is a need for a qualitative study to understand dog theft crime in different parts of the country, and a standardised approach to recording dog theft by all police forces in England and Wales. We recommend 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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