Pet owners warned about thieves using different tactics to steal dogs following rise in stolen animals

Dog thieves warning
(Image credit: Getty)

Pet owners have been issued a warning to be vigilant over dog thieves after rise in number of pets stolen by different tactics.

Dog thieves are reportedly targeting bulldogs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers by 'stalking' pet owners and their dogs - and the warning comes as thefts surge by 30 per cent in one UK county.

It comes after pet owners were warned against walking their dogs (opens in new tab) following a mystery illness and a warning over pets being poisoned (opens in new tab).

A total of 215 dogs have been stolen in Merseyside between January 2017 and December 2021 - with bulldogs being the most likely breed to be taken with 36 stolen from homes in the last five years.

An average of 43 dogs are stolen each year in the county, according to statistics obtained by the Liverpool ECHO (opens in new tab) via Freedom of Information request.

But lockdown restrictions (opens in new tab) over the last two years saw a huge decrease in the number of pets being stolen but now most people are back working in the office, and it's thought that thieves are watching properties and their owners to find the right time to strike - either when they're out or at work or even when they're expecting visitors.

Dog thieves warning

beware of dog sign on fence

Speaking to TeamDogs, one victim, Janine Walsh, said, "Two men were standing at the door, I opened the door thinking it was my son's friends but saw they were in balaclavas so tried to slam the door and they kicked their way through.

"One took me into the living room while the other went into the kitchen with two bags and took all seven puppies."

She added, "My seven-year-old son came down as they were taking the pups."

"They also sat him down on the couch with me, while the other one continued to take the puppies and be aggressive before leaving."

Most likely dog breeds to be stolen by thieves:

  1.  Bulldogs [36]

  2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier [28 stolen since 2017]

  3. American bulldogs [11]

  4. Bull Terriers [9] and Jack Russels [9]

  5. German Shepherds, Pugs and Shi Tzus [8]

Elsewhere in South Yorkshire, in another dog thieves warning, a victim posted on Facebook, "STOLEN Can anyone give me some information on this guy reward waiting he's stolen my little boys dog and he's heart broken now demanding 2500 to receive my dog bk plz everyone share all areas."

And the post was shared with an additional note, which reads, "People of Sheffield BEWARE!!!! Think this guy is particularly operating in the s5 area, and is taking bullie dogs mostly (french bulldogs, XLs, pit, mastiff etc) Keep aware at all times."

Dog theft warning

Closeup of a hand of a thief stealing a dog in a park

A spokesperson for Dogs Trust advised pet owners to notify the police, their local authority dog warden and their microchip database provider if their pet is stolen.

They said, "If your dog is stolen then you can feel helpless and have no idea where to start looking for them. But here are some practical things you can do to give you the best chance of being reunited with your pooch.

"Report the theft to the police straight away and make sure you get a crime reference number and insist that your dog is recorded as stolen and not missing."

"Report the theft of your dog to your local authority dog warden and notify your microchip database provider. Ask local rescue centres, animal charities and vet practices to keep an eye out for your dog.

"Monitor places thieves may try to sell your dog, like pet websites, pet shops and notice boards."

Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 14 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for, Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.