How to prevent pet theft and keep pets safe

Posted March 30th, 2023 by SimpliSafe

The thought of ever having your precious family pet stolen probably sounds and feels awful to think about. Sadly, pet theft does happen. In fact, our pet theft data revealed that dog theft increased by 170% since the beginning of the lockdown in 2020. But fear not, as we’re here with practical tips on pet safety, as well as reinforce your home for any burglary attempts too.

Let’s dive into why pets get stolen in the first place, where pets are likely to get stolen from, pet theft prevention and what you can do if your pet does get stolen.

Why do pets get stolen?

There are many reasons behind theft-related crimes that aren’t limited to pets. To keep the focus on pet theft, pets can be stolen for a variety of reasons:

  • Breeding with other pets

  • To sell for cash

  • To hold at ransom for cash

As you can see, pet theft is mostly motivated by financial gain. Thieves will be on the lookout for places where pets are easy to be stolen from, so it’s important to be wary and have home security systems in place too.

Where are pets stolen from?

Pets can be stolen from a variety of places, such as within the homes they live in, from the owner’s garden, and out in the street (if the pet is off their lead or tied to a post). Sadly, some pets can be snatched in public from the owners themselves too and held at ransom. If pets are left in a car (which we advised against), burglars are likely to notice they’re alone and attempt a break-in. This is especially common when pet owners assume pets will be okay with the window rolled down slightly for airflow.

How to prevent your pet from being stolen

If you’ve ever worried about your pet being stolen, fortunately, there are heaps of preventative measures you can take to ensure your pet’s safety. Here are some of the many ways to keep your pet safe.

Microchip your pet

Whilst this won’t prevent your pet from being stolen necessarily, it can make reuniting with your pet marginally easier, should they have been lost or stolen. If a pet is stolen and they haven’t been microchipped, authorities can’t match their information with yours to rightfully identify them as your pet. It’s also important to keep your pet’s microchip updated with your latest contact information.

If you own a dog, by law, they must be microchipped. Whilst cats and rabbits don’t need to be microchipped, it's highly recommended to do so, even if they predominantly live indoors.

Deter burglars

Deterring a burglar is easily done by having an outdoor security system in plain sight. This is because they know they’ll be seen, so they’ll think twice before planning a pet theft.

Check what you share on social media

There’s nothing wrong with having a dedicated Instagram account for your pet, but what you want to be wary of, is showing too much of your home. This is because it gives potential thieves intel on access points to your home, as well as an idea of where you live which could compromise your own safety too.

Don’t leave pets in the car

Though most common with dogs, leaving any pet in a car alone is both dangerous for your pet and enticing to thieves. There’s a possibility they may break in if they have the motive to do so. Plus, leaving a pet such as a dog alone in the car, even in what’s perceived as mild weather, could be detrimental to their health. So think twice before leaving your pet alone in a car, even for just a few minutes.

Install a home security system

It’s common for pet owners to want to watch what their pets get up to. Why not invest in an indoor camera, so you can keep an eye on them whilst you’re away? At SimpliSafe, our indoor cameras come with full HD viewing and send free alerts the instant it detects any form of motion. In the unfortunate event, there is an intruder in your home, our intelligent sensor technology within our home cameras are calibrated to detect the unique heat signature of humans. Our guide to contact sensors is useful in helping you decide where to place them in your home, and provides full installation instructions too.

Don’t leave your pet unattended outdoors

There may be instances where you cannot bring a dog into a building. It can be tempting to tie their leash to what may be perceived as a ‘secure’ post, but in reality, this poses a pet safety risk. Where possible, bring your dog with you wherever you go, even if it’s inside the building you need to visit. Otherwise, leave them at home if you’re out for a short period of time and consider calling a pet sitter or trusted friend to keep an eye on them.

What to do if your pet gets stolen

If you’re ever in a position where your pet has been stolen, there are a number of ways to report it and, hopefully, get your pet back to the safety of your home.

Report the theft

Report the incident to the police, detailing as much information as you can - such as your pet's name, description, where the theft happened and the date and time of the theft. If your pet was stolen from your home, the difference between a robbery and a burglary will be defined based on the nature of the crime. Be sure to provide a photo of your pet too, as this will help the police identify your pet should they be found.

Get a crime reference number

As soon as you’ve reported the incident to the police, always ask for a crime reference number. This ensures the theft is reported as a crime. When you want to enquire about the crime, you can use the reference provided to help the police find your case quickly.

Report theft to pet microchip company

If your pet has a microchip and you know the company it’s registered to - be sure to ring them up as soon as possible and report your pet as stolen. If you’re unsure which company the microchip is registered to, use the check-a-chip website to find this out. 

Find a dog warden in your area

Say you own a dog, you may want to know if your area has a dog warden service. Whilst they are usually only responsible for missing dogs, it’s still a good idea to alert them should your dog ever end up with them. These are usually operated through your local authority, so be sure to contact your county, district, or borough council to obtain this information. This can be easily done by placing your postcode into the ‘check the council has your missing dog page.

Register your pet on lost pet websites

At this stage, you’ll want to alert as many people as possible about your pet, in the hopes that someone comes forward with some good news. There are many lost and stolen websites for pets that people frequent to help out. Pets you can log as a list include, but are not limited to cats, dogs, birds, rabbits and more. Here is a list of lost and found pet websites you can search for your log your pet on:

Tell local charities, shelters, vets and rescue centres

To help spread the word about your stolen pet, it’s a great idea to tell as many people as you can. Your local veterinary practice will often have a lost pet board where you can place a photo of your pet, along with your contact details. To expand your reach further, be sure to do the same by contacting local animal shelters, relevant charities and the like.

It’s likely that their own social media pages may update their audience about the latest lost pets reported too. Speaking of…

Post on social media

Social media is a powerful tool, as it has the potential to make word spread fast and even go viral. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are especially useful for sharing information about your stolen pet. Other users will be able to share the same post to their network too, thus increasing the post’s reach.

Put up photos of your pet in your local area

If you’ve completed the last two steps, your next one will be to place physical posters up in your local area. It’s also a good idea to place them around the area your pet may have been stolen.

Call a pet bereavement support service

The thought of losing your pet forever, or knowing you have no way of getting them back, can be an incredibly distressing thing to process. Be sure to contact a mental health professional if feelings of grief over the loss of your stolen pet are causing you to struggle in your day-to-day life. Alternatively, specialist pet bereavement services help those who need someone to listen and advise on processing this event. Here are a few pet bereavement services to keep on hand if you need them:

What pet theft laws are there in the UK?

As we’ve mentioned before, theft of any kind is a crime, and it’s highly advised to get a crime number when reporting a stolen pet.

According to a government respondent - “The theft of a dog is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment.”. Plus, if someone causes any harm to an animal in the course of abduction from its owner, they can be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. At the time of writing, injuring the animal in the course of pet theft, or causing animal cruelty, has a maximum custodial term of six months. However, a revised proposition of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill legislation, when passed, will increase this term to five years. We’ll update this guide as soon as we know the latest on the passing of this bill.

Interested in home security to keep your pets safe from theft, or you’re keen to learn about a custom home security system, a member of our team will be happy to help. With your specific needs in mind, we can build a home security system that’ll keep you, your furry friends and loved ones safe. Contact SimpliSafe us today to find out more.