How common are dog thefts in Norfolk?
- Credit: Twitter/@CambsCops
Dog thefts rose slightly in Norfolk last year amid surging demand in lockdown for puppies, with the west of the county hardest hit by attackers.
Police recorded 31 crimes involving stolen dogs in the county during 2020, up from 28 the previous year, according to figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request.
A total of 32 dogs were snatched from kennels, private gardens and homes across the county between January and September last year, down from a total of 42 in 2019.
Half of those animals were stolen in King's Lynn, with 16 pets taken from the area and eight of those in a single attack on a kennel where cocker spaniels were poached.
Jack Russell terriers and Cocker Spaniels emerged as the most likely breeds to be stolen.
Norfolk’s rise is far smaller than that in Suffolk, which saw a doubling in reported crimes from 16 in 2019 to 32 in 2020 and where 83 dogs feared stolen were recovered from a travellers' site in Ipswich last month.
It comes as demand for puppies across the UK soared by as much as 168pc between March and May last year, according to Kennel Club figures.
One north Suffolk family was targeted twice - Linda Saich’s kennels in Freckenham, near Mildenhall were broken into with four flat-coated retrievers stolen in June.
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Three family pets, two Jack Russells and a Cairn terrier, were also taken in December.
Stud male Oscar and three females were taken from Lindcoly kennels in Freckenham on June 15 last year.
The following day, two of the dogs were found at Fen Ditton, near Cambridge, with the remaining pair rescued by a warden near the A14 at Newmarket.
A second attack in December saw daughter Karen Raven-Saich's three pet terriers stolen from a day kennel while she volunteered at her parents’ farm.
Both incidents left the family shaken and Mrs Saich said that despite security upgrades at the farm, they are “just waiting to be hit again”.
“You feel sick at heart and you blame yourself,” she added.
While Norfolk crimes have risen only slightly, Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, recently said he was seeing an increase in emails from people whose dogs had been targeted.
Last month, Norfolk’s own chief constable Simon Bailey told of his “unbearable pain” at becoming a victim of dog theft in 2019, but said the figures “speak for themselves” with less than one theft a week reported last year.
He said it was "really important” to get the message out that as a dog owner you are “highly, highly unlikely to become a victim of this crime”.
The force also recently quashed online rumours about dogs being stolen and men in a van acting suspiciously around dog walkers.
In late March reports began circulating on social media about a van allegedly marked with the RSPCA logo, acting suspiciously around people with dogs.
But police said no crimes were recorded and said they had also checked with the RSPCA to see if it had received any reports of people impersonating its officers, which it had not.
For advice on keeping pets safe, visit the RSPCA website.