Pet Theft On The Rise

How can owners protect their cats and dogs?
As pet parents, we don’t ever want to think about the possibility of our beloved cats and dogs getting stolen; but, as pet thefts rise, it’s in our best interests to understand the risks and how to prevent them.

In this blog, we explore the realities of pet theft in the UK and enlist the help of expert Richard Jordan, co-founder of Pet Theft Awareness, to provide some practical tips on protecting our furry friends.

Is pet theft on the rise?

Since the pandemic, an additional 3 million dogs were welcomed into UK homes. While it’s great to hear that we’re a nation of pet lovers, it has sadly coincided with a 170% rise in dog thefts. Cat owners face a slightly lower — albeit just as frightening — statistic, with a reported 12.3% increase in thefts over the last year.

We also surveyed our HiLife community for their thoughts on the topic: 80% of you said that your concern for pet theft has increased since last year. And many of you said you had taken steps to protect your companions, such as keeping cats indoors and not letting dogs off-lead.

Although the statistics are worrying, owners needn’t live in fear. Recognising the surge in the crime, the Government has recently launched a promising ‘Pet Theft Taskforce’, which is designed to gather evidence on the issue and make recommendations on how to tackle it. And while the initiative finds its footing, there are a number of practical steps pet parents can take to minimise risks.

How can you prevent pet theft?

Richard Jordan, who co-founded Pet Theft Awareness as a way of educating the public on safeguarding pets, offers his top tips on preventing pet theft.

Tips for preventing dog theft

1) Protect your home — make sure that your home is sufficiently protected from potential break-ins. For example, check that all downstairs or easy-to-access windows are fitted with secure locks. CCTV can also deter pet thieves — and even if you don’t have that equipment, simply having a sign is enough to ward them off.

2) Check your garden — there has been an increasing number of dogs being stolen from gardens, so make sure you always keep a close eye on them when they’re out playing. Additionally, it’s good to check that all fences and gates are secure, and that there’s no way for your dog to escape.

3) Stay vigilant on walks — when walking your dog, always keep them in view and be aware of your surroundings. If you do let your dog off-lead, make sure that they’re well-trained for recall. Alternatively, you could put them on a long lead. Carrying a whistle can also be useful to attract your dog’s attention if they’re wandering away from you — or if they’re interacting with anyone suspicious.

4) Don’t leave your dog unsupervised — dogs left alone outside shops or unattended in cars are easy targets, so it’s a good idea to leave your dog at home when shopping, if possible.

Tips for preventing cat theft

1) Bring them in overnight — our cats are adventurous creatures, so, as much as we’d like to, we can’t keep a close eye on them all the time. If your cat is a wanderer, consider bringing them in overnight to prevent any thieves snatching them while it’s dark.

2) Take extra measures if you move house — often, cats can become confused when getting used to a new home, so may wander further than they normally would. If you do move to a new house, restrict your cat to the garden for a couple of weeks as they settle in.

Tips that apply to all pets

1) Identification — it’s important to make sure your pets are microchipped and that you always keep your contact details up to date — especially if you have moved home or changed your phone number.

2) Online — of course, we all love sharing adorable snaps of our furry friends on social media, but be careful not to overshare. For example, don’t make your location known or share images of the outside of your home.

If you’re feeling concerned about the risk of pet theft, there are plenty of free resources available online, which you can find here.

We value our HiLife community and would love to hear your views on the topic, so feel free to get in touch with us via our social channels. (Cat: Facebook & Instagram; Dog: Facebook & Instagram).