Ten dogs a day are being stolen in the UK leaving families devastated, according to animal charities.
The pandemic lockdown has prompted the worst year ever for dog thefts as walkers, kennels, gardens and homes are targeted.
Lady Gaga’s bouncer was shot in the chest four times and her two French Bulldogs taken in the US this week.
The dog theft epidemic in the UK follows a massive rise in puppy prices.
People are being ‘gazumped’ for puppies with some now paying up to £4,000 for a pet.
Missing pets website ‘Dogs Lost’ reported a 170 per cent increase in the number of dogs missing across the UK since the start of the pandemic.
And they fear people are getting so scared of their dogs being taken, they are arming themselves.
Debbie Matthews from Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance estimates ten dogs a day are being snatched.
Sir Bruce Forsyth’s daughter said: “When lockdown happened everyone wanted a puppy so immediately that put prices up.
“At the start people had their names down for a £1,000 puppy but they were being gazumped with someone offering £2,500.
“It is the biggest crime during Covid but many people are still unaware.
“Before lockdown about six dogs a day were stolen we estimate that’s now about ten dogs a day in the UK.
“It’s seen as a low risk and high reward crime. It’s a criminal’s dream job.
“We need to make dog theft a specific criminal offence because currently it is treated in the same bracket as a mobile phone being stolen…or a lost wheelbarrow.”
Dog thieves have even been dressing up as fake RSPCA inspectors with white vans to grab pets.
While in recent weeks there have been some horrific and violent attempts.
One woman in Sheffield last Monday was dragged out of her car by her hair as thieves attempted to steal her dog.
The driver of the van got out of the vehicle and approached her car at 2pm, asking her to hand over her dog, a Lhasa Apso.
When the woman refused, the man grabbed her by the hair through the open window and pulled her out of the car, causing her to fall to the ground.
The man got back in his van and drove off, leaving the victim with bruising and cuts to her knees.
The two men, aged 30 and 33, were arrested this week on suspicion of attempted robbery and remain in custody at this time.
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A “devastated” pet owner in London is pleading for the return of her pet after carjackers stole a dog walker’s van in New Barnet in north London on February 18th.
The van, which had three dogs inside, was taken around 1pm last Thursday.
Two dogs were later dumped, one of them called Chester, who is terminally ill with cancer, who was left near flats in Kent.
But Nala the one-year-old Maltipoo is still missing.
Her owner, Marina Pettigrew, has launched a nationwide appeal for her one-year-old pup.
She said the dog walker had got out of the vehicle to drop one of the dogs home when the thieves “jumped in her van and drove off with Nala and two others.”
Her niece, Melina Georgiou, 27, said: “Nala is our family dog.
“We are grieving and it’s an emotional roller coaster. It will traumatise us forever but it’s worse for her. The thought she thinks we’ve abandoned her or she’s being treated badly is horrendous.
“She comes from such a loving home, she has so many people that love her.
“There’s no way in hell we are going to give up looking for her.
“They’ve messed with the wrong family.”
She said they bought Nala for £1,400 but recently she saw one sold online for £4,000, which she thinks is part of the problem.
And in a message to the dog thieves, she said: “Please, she’s spayed, she just needs to be back safe with her family where she was happy.”
Justine Quirk from Dog Lost said: “I am quite shocked.
“Thefts have shot up due to the puppy prices.
“I have two cockapoos which I bought for £550 and £850. Now mine are worth £6,000.
“Now, when I’m walking around, I’m actually scared, if they are in the garden I feel like I have to have my eyes on them all the time.
“These families who’ve had their pets stolen, are absolutely destroyed.”
She said she is worried that “someone is going to get seriously hurt”.
“The worrying thing for me is that when you look on social media people are already arming themselves, you will end up getting in more trouble than the person who stole your dog,” she warned.
“We are not advocating taking measures into your own hands just be alert and be vigilant. “
She urges owners to vary their route, try and walk with others, don’t wear headphones or be on the phone.
But she points out the most common place for your dog to be stolen is from the back garden.