London is dog theft capital of UK with 400 pooches stolen in a year

American bulldogs were the most stolen breed in 2022  ( Radovan Zierik from Pixabay )
American bulldogs were the most stolen breed in 2022 ( Radovan Zierik from Pixabay )

Dog owners in London are most likely to have their pet stolen, with the capital recording the most thefts in the UK for the eighth year in a row.

Metropolitan Police recorded 396 dog thefts in 2022, analysis of police data by Direct Line Pet Insurance has revealed.

That’s 219 more than Kent, the region with the second highest thefts. West Yorkshire saw the third largest thefts in 2022 with almost 130 dogs stolen.

While London has topped the list since 2015, there were 26 fewer reports of stolen dogs last year compared with 2021.

Stolen dog reports across Britain dropped by 22 per cent last year compared to 2021, the data shows.

A tightening of average household incomes may have reduced overall demand for dogs, paired with an increase in the number of dogs being rehomed.

Between January and October 2022, the Dogs Trust saw a 50 per cent rise in inquiries regarding dog rehoming compared to the same period in 2021.

But a significant number of stolen dog cases still go unreported and there has been an uptake in the number of people using dog walkers.

“We remain a nation of dog lovers. As more than a third of UK households own a dog, the opportunity for thieves is high, with six dogs stolen each day in 2022,” Madeline Pike, Veterinary Nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance said.

“While 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.”

Ms Pike warns dog owners to avoid leaving their pet tied up outside a shop or in an empty car. Owners are reminded to keep dogs on leads in busy areas and to make sure their pet is microchipped.

Around 2,160 dogs were nabbed across Britain in 2022 - the equivalent of six dogs each day - but of those stolen, just one in four were returned.

American bulldogs were the most popular breed among British dognappers. Ninety were reported stolen in 2022, compared with just 20 in the previous year.

American bulldog puppies can be advertised anywhere between £1,500 to £5,000 each.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers were second on the list to be targeted, with 71 nabbed, followed by French bulldogs, Jack Russells and Chihuahuas.

English bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers and Huskies were also among the top 10 stolen breeds.

In London Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most stolen breed, with almost 500 nabbed in the past decade. Thirty-seven were stolen in 2022, with hotspots including Croydon, Bromley and Enfield.

RSPCA said Staffies are “definitely Britain’s most misunderstood breed”.

The rescue charity said they are often taken on as “status dogs” and can be found at the centre of anti-social behaviour due to the way in which they’ve been reared and trained.

But given the right home and care, “Staffies can make absolutely wonderful family pets”, RSPCA said.

Following Covid lockdowns, it was reported that the number of pet dogs stolen in London increased by more than 75 per cent in four years, with brazen thieves even carrying out daylight burglaries just to snatch pedigree pooches bought in lockdown.

Anyone whose dog has been stolen should report it to the police, dog wardens and local council, and report the theft to the microchip database.