Dog owners are being urged to stay vigilant after 17 dogs and puppies were stolen from homes and kennels across the county.
Since May, there have been a rise in thefts and Cambridgeshire Police have noted a significant rise in dog prices, which prompted their concerns.
A West Highland Terrier, a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua were taken from Cosy Kennels in Cambridge Road, Stretham, in the early hours of Sunday (July 12) after thieves cut fencing to get inside.
The owner’s god daughter took to social media to share an appeal to catch the culprits after they broke in between midnight and 7am.
She said: “My god mother lives on her own and they are her babies, please help me find them by sharing my post as far and wide as possible
“Grace is a pedigree, west highland terrier all white long hair and needs a haircut.
“Holly is a Jack Russell cross chihuahua, white and brown all over has large skin lump under belly in the middle the size of a plum and a lump under one of her front legs but it does move around.
“Alice is a schnauzer cross chihuahua, light brown and black all over, wiry hair which is long in places and she has dew claws on both back feet which curl round like a snail shell.”
Dogs have also been reported stolen from Bluntisham, Peterborough, Horningsea, Stow Cum Quy and Wilburton and an attempted theft in Haddenham.
The news comes after a Suffolk family’s beloved pet dogs were stolen just hours after they left them at a kennels before going on a weekend break.
Darren Neal and his partner Melissa Murfet left their three dogs, Annie, Betsy and Storm, in the care of Fiveways Boarding Kennels and Cattery before leaving for their holiday lodge in Hunstanton, Norfolk, with their four children.
Annie, a chocolate brown Lhasa Apso, and Betsy, a grey and white Cockapoo, were stolen in broad daylight along with 15 other dogs and puppies on Thursday, July 9 at Barton Mills.
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.”
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It is thought the figure could be much higher with victims using lost dog websites to find their pets instead of reporting the thefts to police.
DI O’Brien added: “I would urge all owners to report stolen dogs to us. On some occasions we have found the dogs and been able to reunite them with their owners.
“Also take extra precautions to help deter thieves and protect your pets.”
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.
• 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.
If your dog is stolen then it’s vital to report it to police but also consider:
Reporting the theft to your local authority dog warden and notify your microchip database provider.
Reporting the theft to www.doglost.co.uk or their Facebook page as they co-ordinate thefts for each county and offer advice and support.