Warning issued as Sheffield named as hotspot for dog thefts
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Price comparison website Money.co.uk said there have been 129 thefts in the city over the last five years based on analysis of Freedom of Information data.
Sheffield came in third after Leeds, which recorded 346 thefts, Bradford, which had 244 thefts, Huddersfield, with 128 thefts and Blackpool with 108 thefts.
In London alone, a total of 1,409 dog thefts have been reported in the last five years and a total of 3,287 dog thefts have been reported outside the capital city.
The research also revealed the most commonly stolen dogs across the UK, with Staffordshire bull terriers topping the list, with 367 dogs going missing.
Chihuahuas have also been targeted, with 163 stolen over the last five years. Experts believe their small size make them popular with criminals.
French Bulldogs are the third most commonly stolen dog, with 149 thefts in the last five years. Experts believe their high value, which can reach £10,000 in some cases, make them a target for thieves.
Jack Russell Terriers, Pugs, Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and American Bulldogs are also regularly targeted.
To protect against dog theft, pet owners are urged to microchip their pet, not least because it is now required by law so that dogs can easily be identified and returned if they go missing.
Advice also includes taking out pet insurance. Dog insurance doesn’t just protect from veterinary treatments, but some policies will also cover the cost if pets are stolen or go missing, sometimes known as ‘missing pet cover’.
The very best policies will also cover any costs of advertising if pets vanish.
Experts also warn dog owners to be careful on social media, and urge against giving away information such as where they live or walk their dogs.
Gardens should also be kept secure, with dog owners advised to keep their dog in view when they are outside, especially in front gardens, which can be easily accessed from the street.
Gates should be locked and bells can be fitted to sound when they are opened.