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Dog theft should be made a specific criminal offence after a sharp rise in cases during lockdown, according to the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green
Sir Iain Ducan Smith said pets were an "important part" of people's lives and urged the Home Secretary to change the law.
"For many people, particularly those who live alone, pets are very important to their lives," said Mr Duncan Smith.
"These are living animals and are companions to people. So with gangs getting involved now it is getting quite violent and I think there has to be a specific charge. I’ve spoken to her [Home Secretary] and she seems very receptive to that," he added.
The Blue Cross animal charity has helpful tips and advice to prevent your dog from being stolen, including:
Don’t leave your pet in places where they are easily accessible for thieves. Tying a dog up outside a shop or leaving them alone in the car or even in your own garden with poor fencing means it is easier for opportunist thieves to quickly snatch your pet while you’re not there.
Lock your doors and secure your windows when you go out and your pet is home alone to deter burglars
Keep a close eye on your pet on walks and teach dogs a solid recall so they return to you quickly if approached by a stranger
Many pet owners love to share photos of their pets on social media, but revealing their home or frequently visited locations can mean thieves can target specific pets.
For information about the UK's largest lost and found dog service, doglost, click here.