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Gundog thefts soaring as prices rise

Increased demand for dogs during lockdown has caused a spate of gundog thefts

working cocker spaniel

Cocker spaniel

Gundog owners are being warned to be particularly careful following a dramatic increase in gundog thefts, with spaniels seeming to be a particular target.

Keeper Jon Gaunt had three springer spaniels stolen from his East Sussex home in early May. Despite an extensive publicity campaign and “brilliant” support from his local police, there has been no news of the dogs.

He says: “There has been a huge spate locally in dog thefts. A dog handler nearby has had two black cockers stolen too. Dogs have been going from all over.”

Shooting UK asked Jon what he thinks will happen to his stolen spaniels. “They’ll be sold on about for about £2000 each, because the price of puppies is going through the roof. My dogs were bitches in their prime so ideal for breeding. ”

stolen gundogs

We also spoke to Nikki Ashley who helps run the Lost & Stolen Gun Dogs Facebook Group. She agreed: “There has been an upsurge in lost and stolen gundogs in the last few months, cockers and springers are a target. There are loads of cockers missing countrywide at the moment, with a lot gone from the south west, Sussex and East Anglia – anywhere near big shooting estates. Keepers are being targeted. One chap in Wales has had five springers and cockers stolen –  the thieves came back again.”

Dogs Lost

Avoiding gundog thefts

Jon’s dogs were stolen from locked kennels during the night and he warns: “If you think you’re safe, you’re not. I had high security locks but the police said that the thieves must have used powered bolt cutters.” He recommends putting dogs in kennels in brick outbuildings with a solid locked door and using deadbolts, rather than padlocks.

Take down numberplates

He also  advises: “If anybody comes onto your property asking any questions about your dogs or seems suspicious, get their numberplate and give it to the police.”  He warns dog owners to keep an eye out for any strange markings that may appear on doors or fences near their land as this is a sign that the property is being watched and has been marked as having dogs suitable for stealing.