Beware of social media with dog thefts escalating
Dog owners should be wary of posting pictures of their pet on social media and leaving them unattended outside shops, police have warned, amid a rising number of dog thefts in the UK.
Last year, there was a boom in what were labelled “pandemic puppies” as people stuck at home during lockdown acquired pets to lift their spirits. But DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog theft, recorded a 170% increase in the crime, from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 dogs in 2020. And it is not just the UK – Lady Gaga had two French bulldogs stolen on Wednesday night and her dog walker was shot during the robbery in Los Angeles.
“The advice I would give from a police perspective is be aware of social media,” said Det Supt Neil Austin from the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s acquisitive crime unit. “People share pictures of their dogs and puppies on social media and very often haven’t got their privacy settings set correctly, and they use tags which obviously show where you live which is something to be aware of.”
Justine Quirk, of DogLost, said the impact of the pandemic had created a perfect storm for these sorts of crimes.
“Last March, due to lockdown, lots of people thought that this would be the best time to introduce a dog to the family. The demand grew really high, and some people bought them online without asking the diligent background questions you would usually asking when buying in person.
“When some people got wind at how expensive these dogs are, there was an increase of dog thefts by people who realised how valuable a commodity they are.”
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