Report Summary

  • Dog theft in the UK rose nearly 30% relative to the burglary crime rate in 2020, to an all-time high of 1,149 thefts annually (9.14 thefts per 100k dog owners).
  • During Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020, dog theft, drugs, and anti-social behaviour offences were the only crime categories that rose. Antisocial crimes rose 13% relative to the normalized crime rate in 2020, while burglary declined 35% YoY (year over year).
  • London had the highest number of dog thefts and the worst rate of dog theft in the UK, with roughly 1 in every 2,200 dogs stolen. Kent, Cleveland, West Yorkshire, and Cambridgeshire had the next highest rate of dog theft relative to the dog-owning population.
Dog theft rates comparison chart

There were 1,149 reports of dog theft across England and Wales’s police forces during 2020. This is a 4.3% increase relative to the crime rate for all other crime and compared to 2015’s figure of 707 dog thefts, the crime rate of stealing peoples’ pets has gone up 63% since then. While the crime rate for most offenses fell sharply during the UK’s Coronavirus lockdowns - anti-social behavior, perhaps unsurprisingly, seeing a consistent rise throughout - dog theft continues to run unabated.

Map of the most dangerous police force areas for dog theft by crime rate

Looking at the number of dog theft reports per 100k dog-owning residents, the most dangerous police force area during 2020 was London's Metropolitan Police with a crime rate of 45.08 and 317 reports in total, followed by Kent’s rate of 33.37 and 118 reported thefts, Cleveland with 24.65 and 50, West Yorkshire with 23.39 and 121, and Cambridgeshire’s fifth-worst rate of 21.47 from 39 reports.

The safest area for dog crime when considered against population size was the West Midlands with a rate of 2.29 per 100,000 dog owners from 17 dog theft reports. The second-safest area was Lincolnshire with 0.85 and 6 reports, then Avon and Somerset with 4.19 and 17 reports, Surrey with 5.07 and 12 reports, and Leicestershire the fifth-safest area with 8.98 from 31 reports of stolen dogs.

RankingPolice ForceDog Thefts in 2020Rate per 100k
1Metropolitan Police31745.0787
2Kent11833.3653
3Cleveland5024.6475
4West Yorkshire12123.3868
5Cambridgeshire3921.4721
6Humberside4521.2388
7Northumbria9718.8225
8Derbyshire4214.8427
9Dorset2614.5455
10Suffolk2313.8985
11Essex5112.7583
12Bedfordshire1812.7295
13Norfolk2512.6053
14Nottinghamshire3812.4898
15Hertfordshire3112.17
16Sussex319.3786
17Leicestershire258.9834
18Surrey125.069
19Avon and Somerset174.1893
20Lincolnshire63.0482
21West Midlands172.2867
If we only look at the number of dog theft crime reports without accounting for local population size, the most dangerous police force area in 2020 for dog theft was the Greater London area as policed by the Metropolitan Police with 1,409 reports of dog theft in the last 5 years, and 317 in the last 12 months alone. Next was West Yorkshire with 121 reports, then Kent with 118, Northumbria with 97, and Essex with 51. The safest area on a purely numbers basis was Lincolnshire with a low total of 6 dog theft reports in 2020. The second-safest area, Surrey, had 12 reports, and the joint third-place areas with 17 reports were the West Midlands, and Avon and Somerset. The fifth safest area was Bedfordshire with 18 reports.
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Published: 8th April 2021
Updated: 8th April 2021

Methodology

At the start of February 2021, we sent Freedom of Information requests to police forces throughout the UK, asking for the number of dog theft crime reports that took place between 2015 and 2020. As of March 2021, we have only received responses from 20 forces in England and Wales; if you don’t see your local police force covered, we have either had our request refused, or it’s still being processed.

Crime rates per 100k dog owners were calculated by taking the percentage of dog owners in each police force's UK region and applying it to each police force's overall population figure. Dividing the number of dog theft reports in each force area by that force's dog owning population count gives the base rate, which is then multiplied by 100,000 to give the thefts per 100k dog owners figure.