Learn how to protect your pet from theft in the UK by taking proactive measures and staying informed about common tactics used by pet thieves.

At Readyr, we’re dedicated to supporting every member of your family, even the furry ones. Our commitment to equipping you with the knowledge and resources to thrive extends to your beloved pets as well. In the UK, we pride ourselves on being a nation of animal lovers. Far from being simply pets, the cats, dogs, birds and reptiles found in homes across the British Isles are companions and fully-fledged members of the family that give us unconditional love. 

Sadly, the value we place on our furry and feathered friends is well-known to thieves that operate in Britain, and it’s given rise to an ever-increasing wave of thefts. In London alone, there are 400 dogs stolen each year, with that number growing to 2,160 when looking at statistics for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Unsurprisingly, dogs are the most popular pets in the UK (found in 31% of households) and cats a close second (26% of homes), hence why they’re the primary target for thieves. 

Which Cat & Dog Breeds Are Most Likely to Be Stolen? While criminals target many dog breeds, the most commonly singled out by thieves include varieties like Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Chihuahuas and French Bulldogs. Thefts of other popular types like German Shepherds and American Bulldogs are also increasing, but it’s certainly not restricted to pooches. 

Recently, the market for pedigree cats has grown enormously, with prices of particular breeds like the British Shorthair and Bengal reaching thousands of pounds. As such, cat theft is also a growing issue and one of which owners should be aware. 

Why Do Thieves Target Dogs & Cats? | Thieves wouldn’t target the animals we love without good reason. Mainly, it has to do with the worth they have to their owners. The motives criminals have for stealing cats and dogs are varied, such as the high prices the breeds mentioned above have on the black market. 

Other reasons pets are targeted include…

  • Illegal Breeding – Both cats and dogs are used for illegal breeding farms to produce kittens and puppies for sale without using the proper breeding or care standards. 
  • Ransom Money – Thieves are aware of the strong emotional attachment we have with our animals, which is why they often steal them with the intent of asking for a ransom they know we’re likely to pay to get them back. 
  • Resale to Unsuspecting Buyers – Stolen dogs and cats are also sometimes quickly resold to unsuspecting buyers for a quick profit, particularly when talking about designer breeds. 
  • The Value of Worn Accessories – We do like to pamper our animals in the UK, too, and it’s why some dogs and cats end up wearing valuable accessories like tags, collars and harnesses. Again, this gives thieves the reason they need to become interested.  


Whatever the exact reason for taking your pet, their approach is persistent, and the motive is always the same – money. All thieves see in these situations are pound signs. That’s why owners need to be vigilant to avoid the common techniques that they use. 

What Methods Do Criminals Use to Steal Pets? | What you must remember is that criminals are incredibly opportunistic, and it can take just a few minutes or even seconds of inattention for them to strike. There are a variety of methods they use. 

Snatch & Run 

Not everyone is as attentive as they should be with their dogs when they take them outside, sometimes leaving them on their own in the garden or tied to a lamppost outside a shop. This presents the perfect moment to pick up your pooch and run for it. It’s especially common with smaller dogs.

Distract & Snatch

Thieves occasionally approach dog walkers in quieter areas like parks or backstreets and distract them while they or someone they’re with grabs your dog and runs.

Home Intrusion (Burglary) 

Thankfully, pet-related home burglaries are not an especially common occurrence in the UK, although they can happen when a sought-after breed is inside. Typically when the owner is out, they slip inside and grab your dog or cat and disappear. 

Car Break-Ins 

While everyone knows not to leave a dog in a car on a hot day, they could still be at risk on a cold one. A window is all that stands between thieves and your beloved pet, and an opportunist might take the chance if they see the value in doing so. 

What Can You Do to Avoid Your Pet Being Stolen? | While the threat of pet theft is a real one, owners don’t need to be overly worried, as many things can be done to protect them or deter attention. 

  • Microchipping: By using companies like Identichip and PETtrac, you can get your pet microchipped with up-to-date information. A vet just needs to painlessly place a chip under the surface of their skin, and then it can be immediately identified as belonging to you with a chip reader.
  • Secure Garden Fencing: Those snatch & run thieves we mentioned earlier will have much less chance to grab your fluffy friends if you have tall, secure fencing around your garden. It’s also going to ensure they can’t easily wander off on their own. 
  • Varying Your Walk Routes: Thieves using the distract & snatch method in the park may get the idea after observing you on multiple days walking the same way. However, if you vary your dog walk routes to be less predictable, it makes it more difficult for them to plan. 

It’s also a good idea to go dog walking with someone else if possible, as thieves are less likely to try anything with more than one person in attendance. Leaving your dog unattended anywhere is something else to avoid. 

  • Be Careful What You Put On Social Media: It’s fun to put photos of your pups and kittens on social media posts, and it’s understandable, as you want everyone to see how cute and clever they are! The problem is this can lead to thieves getting hold of details of their breed and location. You don’t have to stop. Just be careful. 
  • Lock Your Doors & Windows: Opportunistic thieves can’t reach in and grab your animals without you knowing if all your windows and doors are locked. A home security system adds another layer of protection that deters burglars. 
  • Neutering/Spaying: It’s your prerogative to decide whether you get your cat or dog neutered, but it does offer benefits. The main one is that they become less desirable to thieves looking to breed animals.

These easily implemented steps can significantly reduce the risk that your beloved dog or cat gets stolen, most of which cost you nothing. Even microchipping will only set you back between £10-£30.

Keeping Your Fluffy Pals Safe & Sound Just Takes Focus 

Ask any pet owner, and they’ll tell you that they have a deep and lasting emotional bond with their dog, cat, parakeet or lizard. Losing one can be very painful, both for the owner and the pet that’s taken. Thankfully, it’s very avoidable when you understand where the most significant threats lie. 

Together, let’s transform fear into readiness and uncertainty into confidence. Readyr is here to prepare you for life, today and for the unpredictable tomorrows.


Kent is the number one hotspot for dog thefts outside London – Retrieved from

London is dog theft capital of UK with 400 pooches stolen in a year – Retrieved from

Leading pets ranked by household ownership in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2023 – Retrieved from,of%20respondents%20stating%20their%20ownership

Dog Theft Hotspots 

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