DOG owners in Gwent are asked to be extra vigilant due to a UK-wide rise in dog thefts.

The National Police Chief’s Council recently warned that criminals are exploiting a demand for puppies and rise in prices since coronavirus restrictions were put in place.

The charity, DogLost, has seen reports of thefts rise by 170 per cent in the last year from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.

Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “The theft of a beloved pet can have a devastating impact for its owners, particularly now when people are isolated from their friends and families.

“Although this crime is not common we do know that it is happening in Gwent and I would urge dog owners to be careful during this time, and take extra security measures to reduce the risk of theft.

“I would also encourage anyone who is thinking about buying a dog to ensure that they are doing so legally.”

Anyone with information or who sees someone behaving suspiciously should call Gwent Police on 101.

In an emergency always call 999.

Here are some tips to help keep your furry friends safe:

  • Ensure your pet is microchipped. Dogs and puppies in the UK must be microchipped by eight weeks old by law.
  • Your dog should always wear a collar and ID tag with your name and address on it. This is a legal requirement when your dog is in a public place.
  • Don’t leave dogs unattended in the street.
  • Don’t leave a dog/dogs alone in a car.
  • Ensure your garden is secure and dogs are not left alone for long periods of time.

For more advice visit the Blue Cross website.