Dog theft in Dyfed-Powys soared by 169 percent, making it the second worst in the country behind Lincolnshire, according to new figures.
Dogs in Dyfed-Powys are among the most likely to be stolen in the UK while pooches in South Wales are the safest.
South Wales Police recorded the UK’s biggest drop in stolen dogs at 75 percent over the last three years, while Dyfed-Powys’s numbers soared by 169 percent to rank the constabulary as the second worst in the country behind Lincolnshire.
But a pet charity says the rocketing recorded figures in Dyfed-Powys – which leapt from 23 dogs stolen in 2016 to 70 last year – could mean the force is taking the problem seriously.
And Pet Theft Awareness – which campaigns for a change in the law to recognise dog theft as a specific crime – said the constabulary faces an uphill battle amid a spate of large-scale puppy thefts from rural breeders.
Burglaries like one in Carmarthenshire which saw 15 West Highland terrier and King Charles Spaniel pups taken in a single raid last October can net a thief thousands of pounds.
The lucrative trend of raiding farms and breeders for pedigree pups has seen handbag dogs such as Chihuahuas and Pugs being among the most sought after by thieves, with working dogs also considered prized targets.
Jack Russells were the Dyfed-Powys pet thief’s top dog, while in South Wales and Gwent crooks preferred French Bulldogs. The most commonly stolen pedigree across the UK was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The UK average was a 25 percent rise, according to data obtained by pet insurer The Insurance Emporium under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Insurance Emporium chief executive officer Francis Martin said: “Dog theft is a devastating crime and when it happens all you want to do is get your pet back as soon as possible.
“We encourage our customers to follow police advice and take simple steps to keep their pets safe. If the worst should happen, report it to both the police and your insurer as many policies nowadays will cover the costs involved with trying to find your pet.
“Keeping your garden secure, not leaving your dog unattended in public and making sure it’s
microchipped and the microchip details kept up-to- date, can all help reduce the risk.”
Campaigner and co-founder of Pet Theft Awareness Richard Jordan said: “We actually want to pay tribute to the police for starting to take this type of crime more seriously.
“Some of the regions with the highest figures are actually the ones we know are taking steps to tackle it, which include more effective recording of data.
“But unfortunately the problem is even bigger than this report shows as we estimate only one in three victims ever report their dog as stolen to the police.
“We’re campaigning for a change in the law to have pet theft recognised as a specific crime because as things are it’s classed no differently to having your bicycle stolen.”
Police warn that microchipping is now a legal requirement, and advise owners not to leave dogs unattended in public areas.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokeswoman said: “Dyfed-Powys Police has new crime recording practices which has meant we are better at more accurately reflecting the crime reported to us within our crime statistics, providing a better service to our communities.”