Back to our blog

Dog Theft on the Rise

This week is Pet Theft Awareness Week, an increasing issue in the UK. 2,290 dogs were reported stolen across the UK in 2023 according to research from Direct Line Pet Insurance, a 6% increase on 2022. Of these 2,290 dogs, only 16% were successfully returned to their owners, the lowest level since Direct Line started tracking data in 2015.

Which areas of the UK had the highest levels of dog theft?

London was the dog theft capital in 2023, reporting 359 dog thefts. The table below shows the top 10 police forces for reports of stolen dogs in 2023.

Police Force Stolen Dogs Reported
Metropolitan Police 359
Kent Police 138
West Yorkshire Police 125
Lancashire Constabulary 122
South Yorkshire Police 82
Northumbria Police 73
West Midlands Police 71
Leicestershire Constabulary 65
Derbyshire Constabulary 63
Nottinghamshire Police 56

Gloucestershire and Surrey had the lowest number of dog thefts last year, reporting only 2 dog thefts. Both Gloucestershire Constabulary and Surrey Police are partnered with DNA Protected, which may of course just be a coincidence. 

What were the most commonly stolen dog breeds in 2023?

The list below shows the top 10 most stolen breeds in the UK last year, according to research carried out by Direct Line Pet Insurance.

  • English Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • XL Bully
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Bulldog
  • Dachshund
  • Shih Tzu
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador
  • Chihuahua

The increase in the number of pets being stolen and a decrease on the likelihood of them being returned to just 16%, highlights the need for owners to ensure their dogs can be easily identified.

DNA Protected aims to deter dog theft, assist police with the return of recovered pets and contribute to the prosecution of the people responsible. Your dog’s DNA is unique and cannot be changed.  It is nature’s ultimate identification system.  Unlike a microchip which might be lost, might not work or could even be removed, DNA will identify your dog for life.

Storing your dog’s DNA profile on Cellmark’s forensic database makes it accessible to the police and means that if the worst were to happen and your dog were to be lost or stolen, it could help ensure that they are safely returned.

Data is from Direct Line Pet Insurance.