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  1. ITV Report

Pet thefts on the rise in London as owners warned of dangers

The number of pets stolen in the capital has risen by over 25% in the past four years, figures obtained by ITV London reveal.

Between July 2012 and June 2013, 222 pets were stolen from loving owners.

In the same period between 2015 and 2016, 283 pets were taken.

That rise of 27 per cent, seen in freedom of information figures from the Metropolitan Police, reveal the scale of pet thefts in London.

In August, Hannah Boniface's two dogs - Pippa and Errol - were snatched from a dog walker's van.

Pippa and Errol were snatched from a dog walker's van Credit: ITV London

I was in complete shock, I really didn't know what to do. I felt helpless.

– Hannah Boniface

The pair were found 10 days later, dumped on the roadside.

Hannah, of Peckham, south London, believes they were dumped because they cannot breed.

Dog walkers have been targeted Credit: ITV London

Charities are now warning that professional dog walkers are being targeted by organised gangs.

They advise owners should get their animals microchipped to prevent them being sold on.

Nik Oakley, from charity DogLost, said there is a "black market demand" for pets often associated with celebrities.

It tends to be designer dogs and there’s a particular growth in thefts of small, toy dogs such as pugs, chihuahuas and miniature French bulldogs.

– Nik Oakley, DogLost

Colin Butcher, founder of The Pet Detectives, has given his own advice to dog owners which he says can help prevent thefts.

Colin's advice:

  • Train your dog to come to heel and never allow it to run off out of your sight
  • Do not leave your dog unattended in an insecure area and never leave it outside a shop
  • Before you use a boarding kennel, make a freedom of information request to the local authority, requesting details of complaints and where applicable their local authority licence
  • Your dog has no value to an illegal breeder if it has been neutered, so don’t put off making this important decision
  • Find out how your local authority manages stray and lost dogs. If you think they should be doing more,write a letter of complaint.