Pet theft soaring in Barking and Dagenham

Lisa Levy was reunited with stolen tabby Houdini

Lisa Levy was reunited with stolen tabby Houdini - Credit: Archant

The number of animals reported stolen from Barking and Dagenham more than doubled in the first three months of this year, new figures show.

53 dogs were reported stolen between January 2009 and March 2014.

53 dogs were reported stolen between January 2009 and March 2014. - Credit: Archant

A total of 26 animals were snatched in March alone, while police received two reports of seized bees the month before.

Fewer than half that number were taken in January to March last year.

In fact, just 14 animals were stolen in the whole of 2013.

Among the less common creatures to go missing were a pair of terrapins reported stolen from Chadwell Heath in April 2013, while a pair of love birds disappeared from the same area in March this year.

Owner Kylie Walker was eventually reunited with Annie the pug who was stolen from her home in Dagenh

Owner Kylie Walker was eventually reunited with Annie the pug who was stolen from her home in Dagenham in November 2012. - Credit: Archant

In December 2012 the Post reported that Kylie Walker’s prized pug Annie had been stolen from her garden in Ellerton Road before being sold over the internet.

She was reunited with her £1,200 dog after staff at Finsbury Park vet found the microchip. Annie had been brought in for checks by a woman who bought her on the Gumtree website for £500.

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The Post’s figures, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, show Annie was the second pug reported stolen in the final months of 2012 – the first went missing in September.

Lisa Levy, 68, of Maxey Road, Dagenham, told the Post her three-year-old tabby cat Houdini was stolen from her back garden in December last year – although, again, the story had a happy ending.

She believed Houdini was taken away in a van seen speeding off from the scene – but somehow the cat performed some escapology of his own, and was found by a friend three weeks later.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking [to lose him],” said Lisa, who lives with Houdini, another tabby called Angel, Scamp the poodle and a budgie, also called Lisa.

“I never thought I’d see him again. It was like losing my dad.

“He still goes out in the back garden because you can’t coop them up inside, but I get really worried whenever I call him in and he’s late.

“Pet theft has become a real problem round here. There’s an alley that runs down the back and I had an attempted break-in last year so I fear the worst whenever Scamp goes quiet.”

A total of 47 fish were snatched between January 2009 and March 2014, including 20 koi carp reported stolen from Eastbrook ward in March.

But dogs are the targets of most abductions, with 53 reported stolen in the borough between January 2009 and March this year. Staffordshire bull terriers have proven the popular breed for criminals, with 19 reported missing in the period.

Eastbrook ward, which includes much of Rush Green and incorporates The Chase nature reserve, has seen the most reports of animal theft in Barking and Dagenham with 38 cases reported – more than the total of all other wards combined.

Arnot Wilson, 73 co-founder of Pet Theft Awareness, an organisation campaigning for tougher penalties for animal stealing, said: “A pet is much closer to its owner’s heart than an inanimate object, and yet people can get lighter sentences for dog theft than for stealing something like a car.

“The main theory for the rise in dog theft is the tightening up of scrap metal regulations, so many people turn to pet theft as an easier option.”

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