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Huge increase in UK dog theft blamed on COVID-19 restrictions

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Huge increase in UK dog theft blamed on COVID-19 restrictions
Copyright  Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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Dog theft in the UK has gone up by a whopping 250 per cent in 2020, a rise being attributed to coronavirus restrictions.

With so many people after a puppy or canine companion over lockdown, police said organised crime is behind many of the thefts.

There's a rapidly growing market in which prices for puppies have been driven up markedly - with the value of some breeds quadrupling. Melissa Cole still has Jess, but her other dog, a female, is still in the hands of thieves.

"I think unfortunately, Tig, like a lot of female dogs has been taken so that she can be bred for puppies and the horrible thing about that is that they don't get proper veterinary care," Melissa explained, "they don't look after these dogs, they rinse them for as many litters of puppies they can, because all they see them as is pound signs."

The thieves who stole Tig have demanded a ransom for her return. That's not usual.

They even used children to make calls to her to try to persuade her to pay up.

Campaigners say pets are treated as a person's property, like a mobile phone, so as the law stands, pet thefts are treated as petty crime.

Nearly half-a-million people have signed a petition calling for theft of a pet to be made a specific crime.