Six dogs stolen each day across the UK in 2022

dog theft data

An estimated 2,160 dogs were reported stolen in 2022, according to new research by Direct Line Pet Insurance – around six each day. Only one in four stolen dogs were found and returned.

While concerning, this data shows a 22 per cent decrease in pet theft as the cost of living crisis has led to a fall in dog demand. American Bulldogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and French Bulldogs are bucking this trend with a respective increase of 350 per cent, 610 per cent, and 31 per cent compared to the previous year.

This has led these three breeds to take the unenviable top spot as the most frequently stolen breeds, with London as the ‘dog theft capital’ as the Metropolitan Police reported 396 dogs stolen in 2022, followed by Kent Police (177) and West Yorkshire (130).

“The reality is that a significant number of cases still go unreported”

However, as our own Editor Beverley Cuddy explains, any data based on reported cases is likely to underestimate the actual scale of the problem.

Beverley, who is also Patron of Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance, and Founder of the Bark Angel, said, “Although reported dog theft numbers may be going down to pre-pandemic levels, the reality is that a significant number of cases still go unreported.

“Coupled with the rise in people using dog walkers, multiple dogs could be stolen at one time. Only one crime reference number is assigned when this happens, so we believe the scale of the problem is likely to be much bigger.”

dog theft pet theft

As things stand, dog theft remains a crime with high potential gain and low risk, as the theft of a pet is taken as seriously as the theft of a possession such a as a laptop; in the few cases which are prosecuted at all, the punishment never really fits the crime. The Kept Animals Bill, which among other things would introduce the new crime of ‘dog abduction’ with heavier sentences in order to deter dog theft, has been stuck in Parliament for well over a year.

Madeline Pike, Veterinary Nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance, commented, “We remain a nation of dog lovers. As more than a third (34 per cent) of UK households own a dog, the opportunity for thieves is high, with six dogs stolen each day in 2022. Whilst there has been a decrease in the number of dogs stolen, animal shelters have seen a sharp rise in the number of pets being rehomed. This is likely to be a sign that households are struggling with the cost of living or that they can no longer give their pet the attention they need due to a change in their working patterns.

“Taking precautions such as not leaving your dog tied up outside a shop, in an empty vehicle or keeping it on the lead when in busy areas, will help reduce the likelihood of being targeted by thieves. It’s also vital to make sure your dog is microchipped and that your contact details are up to date. This can help identify your dog if it does go missing and is found.”

Steps to follow if your dog has been stolen:
• Firstly, check the local area and your dog’s favourite spots in case the dog has wandered off
• Engage the local community and make your dog ‘too hot to handle’ by sharing with local groups, putting up posters, informing local media and using social media – include pictures and any distinctive markings
• There are some specific sites set up to help find lost and stolen dogs, like
• Report your dog as stolen to the police and provide them with as much detail as possible
• Report your dog as stolen to local pet related services like vets, animal shelters, pet shops, dog wardens and the council. Provide photos, a physical description and the dogs microchip number
• Report your dog to the microchip database and make sure your contact details are up to date


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