The creation of a proposed offence of ‘pet abduction’ to enable the courts to impose stiffer sentences on those who steal beloved pets, is now set to be introduced following a Parliamentary campaign. The move is being welcomed by East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight.
Greg says: ‘Pet thefts in the UK, particularly of dogs, have increased by almost a fifth during the Coronavirus pandemic with on average, up to 7 pets a day being reported stolen last year according to official police figures.’
‘Plans to tighten up the law and increase the punishment imposed have my full backing.’
Under legislation being drawn up by the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland MP, the new offence will take into account the fact that stealing a family pet is more than just theft, but also causes distress for the family and can also be cruel to the animal involved.
Greg adds: ‘A purpose-made new offence will mean all those who steal pets will face tougher sentences automatically. One of the problems has been that although offences under the Theft Act do carry a maximum term of 7 years imprisonment, there is no evidence that the courts have treated the offences with that level of seriousness. This is partly because when deciding upon sentencing, under our existing laws, the penalty imposed is largely determined by the monetary value of the property stolen and does not take proper account of the emotional stress and distress also involved.
The change in the law is now likely to go ahead when the House of Commons returns from recess in Autumn 2021.