Spatialities of Dog Theft: A Critical Perspective
School of Geography, Geology and The Environment, Keele University, Keele ST5 5BG, UK
School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 March 2019
Revised: 26 April 2019
Accepted: 29 April 2019
Published: 30 April 2019
Dogs are considered property under U.K. law, while owners generally regard their canine companions as family. Reports that the number of stolen dogs in England and Wales rose from 1788 in 2016 to 1909 in 2017 led to public calls to change the law. Recognising that a more robust analysis of dog theft crime statistics is required, we gathered dog theft data for 2015, 2016, and 2017 from 41 of 44 police forces. This paper examines how dog theft crime statistics are constructed, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of these data, and categorises, maps, and measures dog theft changes temporally per police force in England and Wales. Our findings reveal there has been an increase in dog theft crimes, with 1559 thefts in 2015, 1653 in 2016 (+6.03%), and 1842 in 2017 (+11.43%), and a decrease in court charges related to dog theft crimes, with 64 (3.97%) in 2015, 51 (3.08%) in 2016, and 39 (2.11%) in 2017. The actual number of dog theft crimes will be higher as three forces could not supply useable data. There is a need for a qualitative study to understand dog theft crime in different parts of the country, and a standardised approach to recording dog theft by all police forces in England and Wales. We recommend classifying dog theft (or pet theft more generally) as a crime in itself under the Sentencing Guidelines associated with the Theft Act 1968.