Nottinghamshire Police’s newly appointed dog theft head has vowed to do everything in her power to stop families suffering the heartache of having their beloved pets stolen.
Chief Inspector Amy Styles-Jones, who has three pet dogs of her own, said she understood how dogs are part of the family for many people and having one taken can be devastating.
The newly-promoted officer took up the first police role of its kind in the country on Friday and will take a strategic overview of dog thefts in Nottinghamshire, analysing trends, coordinating resources and working alongside partners to prevent and detect this type of crime.
Ch Insp Styles-Jones said: “I’m really excited to take on this role which gives a great opportunity to understand what has been a really serious issue nationally over the last 12 months and I want to ensure we put our resources in the right places within force to make sure it doesn’t become a local issue.
“I understand how concerning it is for people. As a dog owner myself I know it is an emotive issue and that you want to feel safe walking your dog or whilst at home or in your garden with your pets.
“I understand that for many people your dogs are part of your family and Nottinghamshire Police understands that as well which is why we are the first force in the country to appoint a lead for this type of crime.
“I want to reassure people that if you want to report any concerns about your dogs being stolen we will take that seriously.
“I also want to make it clear to anybody involved in dog theft or the mistreatment of animals that it will not be tolerated.”
Ch Insp Styles-Jones, who will perform the role alongside a number of other duties and responsibilities within the force, will work closely with the officers who investigate individual dog thefts, including neighbourhood and response officers.
Part of her role will also be to work with partners and other forces to establish best practices in investigating this type of crime and work out how processes can be improved.
An animal lover herself, as she has three pet Chihuahuas called Tink, Jasper and Josie, she said: “As well as investigating dog thefts I’m also keen to prevent them happening and there are a number of things pet owners can do to increase safety for themselves and their pets.
“One of the best things is to have your dog microchipped, make sure you keep your details up-to-date with the microchipping company and have them to hand if the worst should happen. This is one of the fastest ways that the police can track stolen animals and really save you the heartache.”
She added that around 50 per cent of dog thefts were from gardens and by securing fences, gates and perimeters it could help reduce this threat.
Ch Insp Styles-Jones also advised people not to leave dogs unattended outside shops or in cars.
The new role was created after a survey revealed dog owners are increasingly fearful over their pets’ safety following growing cases of dog theft across the country during the pandemic.
Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “Nottinghamshire Police is proud to do things differently and lead the way nationally when dealing with emerging trends and tackling issues that affect people deeply.
“As a nation of dog lovers, the theft of dogs is close to many people’s hearts and we recognise the impact this crime can have. This newly created role is a reflection of the fact we treat it seriously and should provide reassurance to people that we are there for them should they be affected.”
Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPPC) Emma Foody, who launched the survey, was instrumental in devising the role.
She said: “I’m delighted that Nottinghamshire has become the first force in the country to appoint a dog theft lead. There is growing alarm – both locally and nationally – over the threat of dog theft. This has been fuelled by a number of distressing incidents which have eroded public confidence.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of Guide Dogs for the Blind in helping us highlight how serious this issue is, and I’m keen to work with other organisations to do whatever we can to prevent dog theft in the future and disrupt the lucrative market that has emerged during the national lockdowns.
“As a dog owner myself, I know just how worrying this issue is, and I’m determined to fight for tougher penalties for those involved in this despicable crime.”
Anyone who has their dog stolen is urged to contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.