Romford MP and animal welfare campaigner Andrew Rosindell, today writes in the Havering Daily about pet theft.
2020 was a year filled with horrors, chiefly those caused by, and related to, the coronavirus pandemic.
One of those severely underdiscussed issues is the troubling rise in pet theft, detailed by retired Senior Detective Mark Randell recently in the Havering Daily. His article was one I read with deep concern.
The chief culprit when any crime is committed is the criminal. To steal someone’s beloved pet is a heinous thing to do, and society should feel no shame at being repulsed by such individuals. However, whenever there is an increase in a crime committed of the kind we saw in pet theft in 2020, we must also look at whether there are sensible reforms which will discourage, and disincentivise such abhorrent acts.
A big part of the increase in pet thefts in 2020 will be the financial appeal of pets, particularly dogs, in a year in which many peoples’ finances are in disarray. As Mark Randell found, French Bulldogs can sell for up to £3500 online.
This can only be dealt with by getting our economy moving again. A far easier policy change, and one I will be advocating for in Parliament, is to increase the severity of punishments dealt to those who steal pets.
Astonishingly, pet theft is included in the “Other Theft” category of the Home Office’s categorisation of thefts. The other categories are “Theft from the Person”, “Bicycle Theft” and “Shoplifting”. Whatever the intentions of this, this only serves to minimise the severity of the crime. Indeed, pet theft, according to Mark Randell, is normally only punished with a fine or a suspended sentence.
In my campaign “A Pet in Every Home”, I argue that the law needs to better reflect the status that pets, especially dogs, have in our lives. They are for so many, equal to family members. Just as we need to recognise this when people move into rented accommodation, we also need to recognise this when it comes to the safety of pets. People who steal pets should be punished, and punished much more severely than they are now.
I fully endorse Mark Randell’s prescriptions: better recording of data, jail sentences for those convicted, and the seizure of assets for any money they have made. It’s time to put a stop to this awful crime.