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Dog watch for shire

One of the phenomena of the pandemic so far has been dog thefts, and attempted dog thefts. An outcry on social media led to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) running a national survey on dog thefts.

In Swindon and the rest of Wiltshire, so far in 2021, police report that they haven’t received any reports of dogs being physically stolen. However, they have received reports of a handful of attempted dog thefts; which they are investigating. The force is launching a Dog Watch scheme, through its Community Messaging site.

Wiltshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Debs Smith said: “As a dog owner myself, I appreciate the concern and worry owners have around dog thefts. Despite there being no reported cases of thefts here in Wiltshire so far this year I can understand why the perception is worse than the real picture.

“We are currently investigating reports of a handful of attempted dog thefts as well as being made aware, via social media, of some suspicious activity by some individuals around dogs. We do take this type of crime seriously and want to be proactive in helping dog owners protect their much loved pets – and so I welcome the setting up of Dog Watch.

“This scheme has two major benefits: it helps with the sharing of information amongst a dog loving community and also helps us, the police, build up an intelligence picture of potential issues in a particular area. Please note though, you should still report any attempted thefts via 101 or our website.

“While we don’t want people to panic or worry unnecessarily, we would continue to remind everyone to be vigilant when out walking their dogs and to ensure their animals are locked inside or kept in safe and secure kennels overnight.”

To sign up to Dog Watch: go to

Some 124,729 people responded to the online survey; most said that dog theft was a “serious problem” and thieves should face stiffer sentences. However dog theft is not defined as a crime, as dogs are classed as ‘property’ under the Theft Act 1968.

A Chihuahua has been reunited with her rightful owner in Swindon after being stolen two years ago. During a break-in at a private address in Gorse Hill in October 2019, the female dog was taken, along with some household items, by unknown burglars. In April 2021 the original owner received a letter from a company called Petlog telling her that someone was trying to change ownership of her dog. More on the case on the Wiltshire Police website.


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