Derbyshire’s dog theft hotspots revealed as police don't make any charges in 12 months despite series of incidents
New data released by Derbyshire Police after a freedom of information request showed that, after 56 dog thefts were reported across the county in 2022, no one was charged or summonsed to court in connection with these offences.
The results show more than 1,600 dog thefts were reported in 2022, with more than 1,700 individual dogs stolen - although with a quarter of forces failing to respond, the figure will likely be higher.
This followed a national trend last year, where just 0.9% of 1,600 dog thefts had resulted in someone being charged or sent a court summons.
This includes crimes still under investigation, so the charge rate will likely end up slightly higher, but of the thefts reported in 2021, the number resulting in charges so far is still below 2%.
Debbie Matthews, co-founder of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA), said: “The prosecution rate is so low because dogs are still categorised as ‘property’ in law, the same as a laptop. Property theft is low priority to the police and the Sentencing Council; our dogs in law are merely second-hand goods valued under £500. This is precisely why we at SAMPA and the public have campaigned so hard to get a specific crime for dog theft. Our pets are members of our families and the law must reflect this.”
Dr Ed Hayes, head of public affairs at The Kennel Club, added that it was “really disappointing to hear such a low rate in prosecutions.”
A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “In cases like this, investigators often face difficulties in identifying suspects and obtaining evidence, which can make seeking prosecutions difficult.
“We recognise, however, that there is a huge emotional impact on families who have their much-loved pet stolen from them. We investigate every such crime reported to us and work with partners such as RSPCA to ensure criminals feel the full weight of the law. By targeting prolific offenders, and organised crime networks, we are able to stop these offences from happening in the first place.”