timberland ankle boots Dog thieves holding pets for ransom in Cumbria
A WORRYING trend of ‘dognapping’ has emerged in Cumbria with pets and working dogs stolen for monetary gain.
Nationally between ten and 20 dogs a week are believed to be taken by organised criminals before being held to ransom for cash.
In some cases, the animals are kept until the owner appeals for their return in exchange for a reward with the thief then calling to claim they have found the dog.
In other cases, the criminal calls the owner and states they have purchased the pet legitimately without realising it has been stolen. They then agree to return the dog to the owner in exchange for the alleged purchase price.
The incident was not reported to the police for fear the animal would be stolen for a second time.
In Cumbria, a number of kennel owners reported levels of security within their businesses were extremely tight with high tech surveillance and alarms installed.
However, professional kennels were not thought to be a target for dog thieves, they added, because of the multiple layers of (security)
A spokesman for Cumbria police said dog theft was a crime that was taken extremely seriously.
“In Cumbria, there is no evidence of organised crime groups targeting particular breeds,” they added.
“In the last 3 years, we have investigated 45 crimes involving theft of dogs, across a range of 26 different breeds.
“The majority of the thefts take place in gardens or yards of the owners’ premises.”
New advice issued by the force is for owners to contact them immediately if someone gets in touch claiming to have their stolen pet.
The spokesman added: “Always contact the police as soon as you are aware that your dog has been taken, call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency, and keep us informed of any contact made by people claiming to have your dog.
“If a person has brought your dog, and you can prove it is your dog, then they have purchased stolen property, which is an offence.
“You should never be asked to hand over money to have your dog returned.
“If someone is asking you to pay to get your dog back, we would advise you not to meet with them.
“If you have reported your dog as having been stolen, keep police informed of any contact that is made with you regarding your dog, so investigations can be carried out and offenders can be brought to justice.”
Distressingly, her owners discovered thieves had broken into her locked kennel again on December 4 taking collie Sprite, aged four, and eight year old Welsh collie Meg.
Owner Jane Eden said she was losing hope of seeing her dogs returned this time.
“We are suspicious. We think whoever took Sprite and Meg must have known the dogs, because one was very timid and would only go to someone she knew.
“We paid a reward when Sprite was returned after she was stolen the first time.
“There’s a lot of value in working dogs which is why they are often targeted.
“Buying a trained sheepdog in its prime will cost 3,000, 4,000, 5,000.
“We are an organic farm, we cannot do without dogs, so it has cost us a lot of money in addition to the upset of having Sprite and Meg stolen.”
Security at the farm has now been strengthened, and lost posters showing photos of Sprite and Meg have been shared on social media thousands of times.
They are also registered as stolen with the police and a range of organisations linked to sheepdogs and farming.