East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight is one of a growing number of MPs calling on the government to take action to toughen up the penalties given to those who target and steal pets.
Sir Greg said, “Last year saw an estimated 250% increase in dog thefts during the pandemic as the demand for pets during lockdown soared.”
The Driffield MP wants action to deter those criminals who seek to profit from “this despicable crime”.
Sir Greg said: “Most pets are much-loved family members and this shocking rise in pet theft is appalling. It is clear that the current system of prosecuting pet thieves under the Theft Act is not working and the law should, in future, recognise that the theft of pets causes severe grief to many owners because of the strong emotional distress involved.
“The theft of a pet should not continue to be assessed purely on its monetary value. We need to send a strong signal to potential thieves that they are moving into a different territory with this sickening crime. It is more akin to a kidnapping than the stealing of an inanimate object like a mobile phone.”
“To recognise the devastating emotional effects that this crime can cause, I am asking the government to consider introducing a specific offence of pet theft, with much harsher penalties. A specific offence would acknowledge the severe emotional heartache associated with stealing a pet and result in far harsher punishment to deter pet thieves, by underlining the seriousness of the crime.”
“Alternatively, the court Sentencing Guidelines could be amended, so that those prosecuted under the Theft Act receive harsher penalties.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said recently that “the case was building for a change in the law”, adding, “we are definitely looking into what kind of measures can be put in place in terms of the criminality”