Support has been given in Hampshire to recommendations to tackle a rise in pet thefts.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones and Hampshire County and Winchester City Councillor, Jan Warwick have backed proposals by the national pet theft taskforce to tackle the reported rise in thefts.

The plans include the introduction of pet abduction becoming a criminal offence and the new law will recognise the welfare of animals and that pets are valued more than property.

Other recommendations in the report include improved recording and data collection about these crimes, new requirements to register additional details and a single point of access to microchipping databases which will support tracking lost and stolen dogs and tackling the fear of the crime, with police working together with partner agencies to raise awareness about police initiatives and prevention measures.

Commissioner Jones said: “I have campaigned to get dog thefts specifically recognised in law meaning the impact of these traumatic crimes will be sentenced reflecting the harm they cause.

“This is an important development and the recommendations in the report from the national Pet Theft Taskforce, particularly pet abduction becoming a criminal offence has my full support.

“While dog theft is rare in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, there was a reported rise in pets being stolen during the pandemic and it needs to stop and to be taken much more seriously across the criminal justice system."

Cllr Jan Warwick adds: “This change in the law sends a strong message to any criminals planning to target our pets.”