DOG and cat-nappers will face up to five years’ jail under new laws to tackle the big rise in pet theft.
Animal abduction will become a criminal offence which officially recognises domestic creatures as more than just property.
Dog and cat-nappers face five years in jail under new laws to tackle a rise in pet theft[/caption]
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is set to announce tougher sentences later this month.
It comes after high demand for pets during lockdown sent the cost of some breeds rocketing — and organised criminals began stealing them to sell on the black market.
Mr Buckland is expected to add the new offence to the Police and Crime Bill which is going through Parliament.
The law will classify pets as more than property, by recognising their theft as “abduction”.
Courts will be able to take into account the anxiety suffered by the owner and the welfare of the animal when deciding the length of sentences.
A Government source said: “We have been listening to charities, breeders and the police to get a better understanding of what we need to do to tackle this awful crime.
“Part of the package will be a new offence to reflect having a pet stolen is traumatic for both the owner and the pet.”
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The average price paid for a puppy last year was £1,875 — up from £808 in 2019, according to Pets4Homes.
English bulldogs, which are the most expensive breed, were £2,140 in June 2020, compared with £1,637 in March — although some listings have reached as high as £9,000.
The law is expected to follow a report by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce this month.