Staffordshire bull terriers top the list of the dog breeds most targeted by thieves and there has been rise in thefts during the coronavirus pandemic.

New figures reveal that almost 2,500 dogs were reported stolen in the UK during 2020 - up by 19 per cent on the previous year.

It comes after eight sausage dogs were stolen earlier this year from a kennels near Swadlincote. Two were later found miles away but six are still missing, say the broken-hearted owners. In a separate case a woman was walker her dachshund Minnie when she was bundled to the ground and her pet's lead ripped from her hand by thieves in Woodville. Luckily Minnie was later found wondering the street in Loughborough.

According to analysis by Direct Line Pet Insurance, an estimated 2,438 dogs were reported stolen last year, writes MirrorOnline.

Staffordshire bull terriers continue to be the most popular breed of dog targeted by thieves, according to the figures, with 97 dogs stolen across the UK in 2020.

Crossbreeds remain the second most targeted, with 52 stolen last year, although this was a fall of nearly a third when compared to 2019.

Other popular targets include Chihuahuas and French bulldogs, which each saw a reduction in the number stolen compared to last year, but still saw 12 of each breed disappear from British homes in 2020.

The top targets are:

  1. Staffordshire bull terrier
  2. Crossbreeds
  3. Cocker Spaniel
  4. Bulldog
  5. Labrador
  6. Jack Russell
  7. Border collie
  8. Springer spaniel
  9. Chihuahua
  10. French bulldog

Regional data suggests the North West is now the nation's dog theft hotspot, accounting for 15 per cent of all reported thefts in 2020.

London was second, accounting for 13 per cent of all thefts, followed by the South East and Yorkshire.

Experts fear increased dog ownership and soaring prices for pups during the pandemic is driving the surge in thefts.

Veterinary nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance, said: "It's incredibly sad to see the number of dog thefts rising by such a large proportion in 2020.

"Unfortunately, it seems the increase in dog ownership over lockdown has also translated to a rise in dog thefts, as thieves know how valuable some of these breeds can be and see them as a commodity rather than a beloved member of the family.

"The worry is these numbers will increase even further this year once dogs are left alone more as restrictions ease and we return to a new ‘normal’.

"Taking simple precautions like not leaving your dog tied up outside a shop or keeping it on the lead when in busy areas, will help reduce the likelihood of being targeted, while making sure microchipping contact details are up to date can help identify a dog if it is stolen and handed in."

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