Dog owners in Bluntisham are being urged to stay vigilant following a rise in thefts in recent months.

Since May, 17 dogs have been stolen from homes and kennels in Cambridgeshire.

A West Highland Terrier, a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua were taken from a kennel in Cambridge Road, Stretham, in the early hours of Sunday July 12 after thieves cut fencing to get inside.

Alice, the Schnauzer cross Chihuahua, has now been reunited with her owner after being found in a bush in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Dogs have also been reported stolen from Bluntisham, Peterborough, Horningsea, Stow Cum Quy and Wilburton and an attempted theft in Haddenham.

Detective Inspector Chris O’Brien said: “Dogs are often part of the family and every theft is absolutely devastating for owners.

“With more people working from home and finding themselves with extra time, the demand for dogs has soared across the country.

“However, this has in turn resulted in huge increases in prices which has sadly led to criminals taking advantage of the situation by stealing dogs in an attempt to sell them on at a high price.”

Dog owners are advised to:

Keep an ID tag on your dog at all times

Lock gates using bolts at the top and bottom, along with a heavy-duty padlock.

You may also want to watch:

Ensure there are no places where dogs or other animals can escape or be pulled through, if they are left in a back garden.

Never leave your pet in the garden unattended

Fit a bell or gate alarm so it makes a sound when someone opens it

Purchase a driveway alarm so you are alerted to any visitors, these can also be used in rear gardens

Make sure your dog is microchipped and their details are updated so that they can be returned if they are stolen and subsequently found.

Avoid leaving a dog tied up outside a shop or left alone in a car, even for a few minutes

Take lots of photographs of your dog to prove ownership if it’s stolen and then found.

Report dog theft to police straight away.

Anyone with information about a stolen dog, or suspicious behaviour, can report it to police on 101 or online at cambs.police.uk/report