A total of 3,047 people from Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria responded to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ national poll, which showed that more than three-quarters of dog owners said they were more scared of walking their pet because of the heightened risk that it would be stolen.
Although results showed public perception to dog theft being high, out of 124,729 people who responded to the online survey, 0.3% had their dog stolen, revealing the reality of dog theft to be extremely low.
An overwhelming majority of respondents said that dog theft was a “serious problem” and thieves should face stiffer sentences.
Over 78% did not know someone personally who had been a victim of dog theft.
Pleasingly, 92% said they would report dog theft to the police if it happened to them, though 65% are more fearful taking their dog for a walk in the daytime.
94% had seen reports of dog theft or suspicious activity in relation to dog thefts on social media, with the majority seeing this on public or community Facebook groups.
Acting Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Steve White, said: “It is alarming that nationally dog thefts have become an increasing concern for communities. Across County Durham and Darlington, we have fortunately seen a low number of reported dog thefts, however, more can be done to protect our pets.”
“Currently pets are classed as possessions in the eyes of the law and increasing tougher sentences for this type of crime would send a message to the criminal fraternity that this is a serious offence, providing a further deterrent.”
“I am very pleased in the way Durham Constabulary have responded to community concerns over this issue, including their efforts to find stolen dogs and raise awareness around prevention to keep family pets safe and protected.”
“We have seen speculation around these incidents grow on social media platforms, but I would urge anyone who would like to report a crime or suspicious activity to contact the police on 101.”
The survey, the largest ever conducted by PCCs and led by Sussex PCC Katy Bourne, will be used to help shape police recording and response to dog theft and could also influence how the crime is defined.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
This 14 question survey was conducted online via SurveyMonkey and ran for three weeks from 19 February to 12 March. It was advertised across social media through PCCs' channels nationally, via other Government bodies, the mainstream media, Neighbourhood Watch networks and by charities such as Dogs Lost.
If you are a victim of crime or know someone who has been please visit : https://victimcareandadviceservice.uk/ / 0303 040 1099
Statement from Acting PCVC Mr Steve White on force report in relation to Mr Dominic Cummings
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