In the last fortnight LSS London have been informed of an alarming number of dog thefts from within our patrol towns. Criminals have been stealing family pets in broad daylight from residential gardens with relative ease. Unfortunately for victims, this heinous act takes a matter of seconds to complete, leaving no time to react.
Little comfort will be taken from the fact that this problem has not been unique to our patrol towns. As reported by many national newspapers and media outlets in recent days, there has been a dramatic increase in pet thefts across the UK. This has been brought on by the recent COVID pandemic. Puppy demand has increased significantly across the country in the last year as a result of people spending more time at home and with that, so have the respective costs of purchasing a new pet. This has now become a lucrative market in which organised criminals have been quick to exploit. Pet charity DogLost has seen reports of thefts rise 170% in the last year and this number continues to climb with dozens of pets now being snatched every day.
The undue stress caused by the theft of a much loved family pet is understandably devastating but also very much avoidable.
As with almost all crime, prevention is key to tackling it.
Things you can do to prevent pet theft:
- Ensure doors and windows to your property are securely locked at all times. When at home, aim to keep front and back doors locked particularly if you leave the room for an extended period of time. Whilst home break-ins are rare in the case of pet theft, it’s best to ensure it does not become an option for these criminals.
- Keep your pet in sight at all time when letting them out in your back garden. Try not to leave your pet unattended. The criminals are reportedly entering gardens to steal pets.
- Close off any potential escape routes for your animal, for example gaps under fences or in hedges. Pets love to roam so to keep them in close proximity, reducing their ability to leave your premises will prevent easy theft.
- Keep garden gates closed and locked. Prevention is all about making life as hard as possible for the criminal and an open gate will be seen as an open invitation.
- Install CCTV around your property – A property with clear CCTV in operation becomes less desirable than a property without. Whilst it’s not a guaranteed solution, it could provide useful evidence when trying to identify the suspect.
- Ensure your pets are ‘chipped’. Whilst this is becoming more common amongst pet owners, some pets may not be chipped and so identity can often only be determined by an easily removed collar. By chipping your pet, if your pet is found, they can easily be identified and returned to you.
- Keep your dog on a lead. When you take your dog for a walk, try to keep them on a lead if you can. A dog that is attached to a person is much more difficult to snatch than a dog that is not.
- Do not leave your dog tied up outside a shop unattended. Strangers and passersby will not necessarily know who the dog belongs to so a thief could easily untie and walk away unnoticed.
- If you are not an LSS customer, consider signing up to LSS Residential Security Patrols. Our exclusive patrol teams monitor suspicious activity and quickly remove unwanted persons from the vicinity.
- If you are an LSS customer, consider signing up to LSS ProResponse+ – an industry leading trespass and rapid response service including cutting-edge sensor technology.
What to do if you pet is stolen or missing:
- If you have witnessed someone remove your property from the premises, call the police immediately detailing the suspects appearance and clothing and if possible any associated vehicle information including number plates.
- If LSS London operate in your area, contact your local patrol team who will aim to provide immediate assistance. We must advise you contact the police first if the crime is in progress.
- Try to stay calm. At this time, when your pet is cannot be accounted for, it could be easy to panic and assume they have been stolen. Pets are naturally curious creatures and are known to be found sniffing around in a bush or taking a nap in an obscure place. Search your property and the area immediately outside your property to check that your pet definitely isn’t at home.
- Ask your immediate neighbours if they have seen your pet. Pets have a tendency to visit neighbouring gardens where the smells are familiar or certain scents trigger their curiosity.
- Use the power of social media – share information about your missing pet on your timelines and try to join local groups where people may have spotted something. Increasing the profile of your missing pet can make them too hot for a criminal to hold onto.
- Get in touch with local rescue centres or pounds. If by chance they have been found or recovered but cannot be identified they could end up at a rescue centre.
If you have any concerns about home security, please contact the LSS team who would be happy to talk about ways in which you can protect your home, family and beloved pets.