Pet theft could become a crime in its own right under plans to change the law 

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Two years in jail for dognapping: Pet theft could become a crime in its own right under plans to change the law

  • Dog theft is not defined as a specific crime with pets still classed as ‘property’
  • The Kennel Club say less than five per cent of cases result in criminal conviction
  • Amendment to the policing Bill would create a specific offence for pet thefts

Pet theft could become a crime in its own right that carries a two-year jail sentence under plans to change the law.

Labour justice spokesman David Lammy yesterday tabled an amendment to the policing Bill to make it a separate offence following a rise in dognapping.

Should the amendment receive cross-party support and pass, the Government would be required to introduce the law.

One dog, three-year-old sprocker spaniel Ted, was taken in December while being walked in South London

One dog, three-year-old sprocker spaniel Ted, was taken in December while being walked in South London

The Government is already looking at increasing penalties for those who steal pets and sell them on for commercial gain and changes are expected to be announced shortly.Home Secretary Priti Patel has launched a task force.

At present, dog theft is not defined as a specific crime with pets classed as ‘property’ under the Theft Act 1968. 

Despite the current act including a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, the Kennel Club say that less than five per cent of cases result in a criminal conviction.

Campaigners also argue it equates stealing a beloved family dog to taking a phone or bike.

The amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would create a specific offence for pet thefts.

Labour justice spokesman David Lammy yesterday tabled an amendment to the policing Bill to make it a separate offence following a rise in dognapping

Labour justice spokesman David Lammy yesterday tabled an amendment to the policing Bill to make it a separate offence following a rise in dognapping

Offenders could face up to two years in jail and factors such as if the pets are stolen for commercial gain and whether distress is caused to the pet, its owner or dog walker would aggravate the offence.

Demand for puppies has boomed in the past year with prices for some breeds rising from £500 to £2,000 – which has attracted criminal gangs as well as opportunistic thieves.

It is estimated that dog thefts have risen by a staggering 250 per cent since the pandemic began.

The issue has already caused concerns among MPs with many Tory backbenchers – including former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith – calling for tougher sentences.

Miss Patel met Environment Secretary George Eustice and the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland last month to agree a cross-government approach.

Mr Lammy said: ‘The current laws are failing to put off organised crooks from stealing pets for profit. Labour is calling on the Government to work with us to prevent more victims of this cruel crime.’

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