Huge increase in cat thefts reported by police
Levels of cat theft have more than doubled over the past four years with thieves increasingly targeting expensive and exotic breeds.
A Freedom of Information request by campaigners Pet Theft Awareness to 48 police forces and authorities across the UK has revealed a 114 per cent rise in the crime in the period 2015 to 2018.
The figures show that Bengal cats, which can sell for upwards of £500 each, are at the greatest risk of being stolen, accounting for almost one in five reported thefts.
Bengals have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years thanks to the exploits of an increasing number of high-profile celebrity owners, including Bruce Springsteen, Kourtney Kardashian and Liz Hurley.
British shorthair cats – the pedigree version of the standard domestic cat – which include the popular British Blue breed are the next most commonly stolen pets, accounting for 14 per cent of the total. Person cats account for 11 per cent of thefts.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) area was the UK’s number one cat theft hotspot, with 18 per cent of all recorded thefts in the UK.
However, police prosecution or cautions followed in just one per cent of the MPS’s recorded cases. This was in contrast to Cumbria Constabulary, where 50 per cent of recorded cat thefts were converted into police cautions.
The discrepancy could be explained by of a lack of uniformity in the way police record and enforce cat theft. Almost half of the police forces that provided data failed to prosecute a single case of cat theft or issue a police caution over the entire four-year period.
Responding to these statistics, Pet Theft Awareness campaigner Toni Clarke – herself the owner of a missing cat, said: “The reaction of the policeman answering my call could only be described as instant, disinterested dismissal, citing a cat’s ‘right to roam’. Officers refused to record him as missing or stolen even though I had good reason to suspect the crime of cat theft.”
Richard Jordan of Pet Theft Awareness added: “Cat theft is a crime which seems to be on the up. We are campaigning for cat theft reform so that when a cat disappears, the assumption that it has gone walkabout is replaced with proper police recording, enforcement and uniformity of approach across the board.”