Pet theft is one of the biggest nightmares any owner has and with lockdown dogs becoming a major feature of pandemic life, the problem has been getting more acute in Britain.

Across the UK, data is emerging on the kinds of dogs most likely to be stolen, with the Birmingham Mail reporting this week on figures obtained from West Midlands Police using a freedom of information request.

The overall tally for the first four months of 2021 was twice as high as in the equivalent periods of 2019 and 2020, with 35 pets being taken compared to 18 in 2019 and 2020.

Of these, the most commonly taken dog breed was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which accounted for 12 of the thefts, but numbers have risen significantly for the French Bulldog, with eight since 2018, of which four were in the first four months of this year.

There were also five Chihuahuas, the same number of German Shepherds, four huskies, four pugs, three bull mastiffs and three Jack Russells.

Lozells and East Handsworth in north-west Birmingham was the council ward with the worst dogknapping statistics in the region, with six offences, followed by Kingstanding in the north of the city with five. Other bad areas were Bushbury in Wolverhampton, Soho and Victoria in Sandwell and Willenhall South.

These figures show the wisdom of having a pet tracker microchip fitted, as this can make it far easier to track down a stolen pet and ensure it is returned to its rightful owner.

It is not just in the West Midlands metropolitan county that the levels of dog thefts have been high.

According to Crimestoppers, pet thefts rose by over a fifth during lockdown in 2020, with as many as seven per day in 2020. This prompted the organisation to support the Protect your Pooch Campaign launched by Neighbourhood Watch.

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