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Worrying about dog thefts? Move to Surrey

In Derbyshire dog thefts have risen by almost 150% and it’s best to steer clear of the West Country, but working dogs are safer than pets

Surrey is the safest place in the UK to own a dog, while Devon and Cornwall are the least safe, according to a report by pet security expert ADT. The report was compiled from data released from police forces across the country following Freedom of Information requests by the enterprising firm.

Devon and Cornwall is a pooch-poaching hotspot with 140.6 thefts per 100,000 people every year, more than twice as many as its nearest competitor Northumbria, with 61.5 thefts per 100,000 people. Lancashire is third, with 52.9 thefts per 100,000. 

Amid the secure and leafy lanes of Surrey, there are a meagre 6.8 thefts per 100,000, with the West Midlands at 10.4 and Gwent at 13.9 also comparatively safe places to
own a dog.

Derbyshire is the place in the country that has had the most rapid rise in dog-snatching crimes, with thefts increasing by almost 150% in the past five years. Devon and Cornwall has had an 83% rise in the same period. 

The report notes that dogs are the most commonly stolen pets, followed by birds then cats. Almost four times as many dogs are stolen as cats. There was a total of 1,155 dog thefts reported in 2021 across all the forces covered in the report.

Staffordshire bull terriers are the most commonly stolen dog. However, dogs bred for fieldsports account for quite a small percentage of dogs stolen.

Shooting Times contributor and dog trainer Ellena Swift said: “The breeds featured do not surprise me at all. Essentially dogs are stolen to order and, if you look, the most fashionable breeds are being targeted. The areas of highest theft do surprise me, though. You would think that remote is safer. But I guess with more built-up areas comes more cameras, ‘smart’ doorbells and human presence, so it’s harder to steal.

“I do sometimes wonder if pet dogs are targeted more compared with working ones. All gundog owners I know take massive care with motion sensors, cameras and even guard dogs to keep their dogs safe. I think a lot of pet owners are perhaps a little naive at how valuable a pet dog could be to a puppy farm and believe that their house, garden or even car is totally safe, which is sadly not the case,” she added.


Most commonly stolen breeds


Total reported thefts

Staffordshire bull





French bulldog


German shepherd


American bulldog


Jack Russell






Pug and pomeranian