Police figures show just 32 reports of dog thefts in Derbyshire last year

Figures from Derbyshire Police show there were just 32 reports of dog thefts across the county in 2020 - down from 36 in 2019.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 9:54 am

Though the data shows reports climbed compared to 2018 with just 25, incidents of the crime in Derbyshire were low compared with other counties.

The highest rates per capita were recorded in Cleveland and Durham - with 87 and 81 thefts per 1,000,000 people respectively. Derbyshire had a rate of 30 per 1,000,000 people.

Of all the 46 police UK police forces 29 responded to the FOI by National World – Derbyshire Times’ parent company.

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Figures from Derbyshire Police show there were just 32 reports of dog thefts across the county in 2020. Photo: Pixabay

Though reports in Derbyshire are comparatively low at 32 in 2020 thefts could include multiple dogs.

Thirty-one dognapping investigations conducted by Derbyshire Police in 2020 resulted in not a single charge or court proceeding.

In 14 cases no suspect was identified while the remaining 17 cases were beset by “evidential difficulties”.

Nationally, less than one per cent of dog theft reports resulted in a suspect being charged.

Phil Littlewood with "best friend" lucky

In February a spokeswoman for Derbyshire Constabulary said “dog thefts within Derbyshire thankfully remain very low” despite an increase in media reporting.

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While the results of a national police survey designed to “understand public perception of dog theft” showed in March 96 per cent of those taking part thought dog theft was a serious problem.

Of the 124,729 people who took part in the survey only 418 said their dog had been stolen - while 27,505 said they personally knew someone whose dog had been stolen in the last year.

In March Derbyshire Times reported how Stanfree man Phil Littlewood’s Springer Spaniel Lucky disappeared from his garden while mechanic Phil was in his workshop on the property.

Phil told how Lucky, who he describes as “everybody’s best friend”, would have been quite easy to entice into the back of a passing vehicle.

Days later distraught Phil received a phone call from someone claiming to be calling from Gloucestershire saying he had paid £3,500 for Lucky.

However the animal had shown no interest in breeding and he offered to sell the dog back to Phil for the same price.

Despite months of promising leads identifying a Gloucestershire man as the likely suspect in Lucky’s disappearance Phil’s best pal has yet to be recovered.

This month Phil said the dog’s loss only hit him harder as time went by and he feared the pooch - who “spent his life” wandering around Phil’s smallholding - may now be “chained up in a cage somewhere”.

Pet theft currently comes under the Theft Act 1968 - with a maximum penalty of seven years.

However it is argued that this is like lumping animals together with stolen mobiles phones or laptops.

While pressure on Government ministers led to a an announcement this month of a new task force investigating the crime and drawing up an action plan to deal with it.

The task force aims to report on the findings of its investigation and publish recommendations in the autumn this year.

A message from Phil Bramley, Derbyshire Times Editor: In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper.