United Kingdom

Suffolk police hunt gang that stole four dogs and 13 puppies

Police are hunting a gang that stole four dogs and 13 puppies after targeting kennels and breeders in broad daylight.

The thieves removed hinges from gates before escaping with the dogs from the Fiveways Kennels in Barton Mills near Mildenhall, Suffolk.

The gang struck between 3.45pm and 6pm yesterday - the day the kennels re-opened after lockdown.

The haul included six five-week-old Labrador puppies and seven Lhasa Apso puppies, and two adult female Lhasa Apso's.

Two of the 17 dogs stolen in broad daylight by thieves who raided the Fiveways Kennels at Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, Suffolk, between 3.45pm and 6pm yesterday

One of the stolen dogs. Suffolk Police believe the same gang may also have taken a cocker spaniel stolen last Monday and said security measures to prevent thefts includes good locks

A female cockerpoo and female working cocker spaniel, belonging to a family who were the kennels' first customers since it reopened, were also taken.

The dogs were housed in a purpose-built kennel on the site. It is believed that the thieves approached across fields at the rear.

Kennels owner Jason Francis found the dogs missing when he went to walk them and found one of the other other dogs with a rope around his neck.

He said: 'He had obviously managed to get away from them. We thought this isn't right, he shouldn't be out.'

Mr Francis said the thieves had managed to get through extensive security measures.

He added: 'We have the connection with every single one of our dogs. They don't care that these dogs have a life and have feelings.

'It's just purely money, money, money. They don't care what happens to them. That's the sad fact.'

Mr Francis said he feared that the Labrador puppies would not survive without their mother who was left by the raiders.

He said there were at least two sets of footprints in the mud and evidence that one or two vehicles had parked nearby.

Suffolk Police believe the same gang may also have taken a cocker spaniel stolen last Monday from a garden enclosure on a farm in nearby Holywell Row.

Cocker spaniel Penny, right, who was stolen from nearby Holywell Row on Monday by who police fear to be the same gang and one of the 17 dogs stolen yesterday, left

Mr Francis now fears that other kennels and owners might be targeted.

He said: 'This is going to get worse and worse and worse. It's going to become ridiculous.'

Sergeant Brian Calver, a rural crime sergeant from Suffolk Police said: 'Organised crime groups are actively targeting addresses, with working breeds tending to be those that are favoured by criminals.

'The loss of any pet can be devastating to owners, with the added trauma of not knowing what sort of conditions the dog is being subjected to. We would advise dog owners to review security of any outdoor kennels.'

Sgt Calver also advised dog owners to ensure they were not giving away personal details online.

He said: 'Consider your security on social media and avoid giving away details that may highlight your address and the fact you have a dog which could be attractive to thieves.

One of the 17 dogs stolen yesterday. Mr Francis said the thieves had managed to get through extensive security measures

'We would encourage you to be vigilant of suspicious persons seen around addresses, or any cold callers. Please report such activity, with descriptions of the individuals and their vehicles, as well as sharing those concerns on local watch groups.'

The two female Lhasa Apsos stolen from Barton Mills were black-and-white and honey-and-white.

One of the Lhasa Apso puppies was honey-coloured, while five were black-and-white, three of them make and two female.

Two of the labrador puppies were yellow-coloured males and the other four were black, two of them male and two female.

The female working cocker spaniel was three years old and chocolate coloured while the grey and white cockapoo was between two-and-three-years-old.

The seven-year-old cocker spaniel was stolen from Holywell Row between 1pm and 2.20pm on Monday is called Penny. She is black with a white bib and lip markings.

Suffolk Police said security measures to prevent thefts includes good quality locks and lighting. Owners should also consider CCTV and sensors as an early alert to the presence of intruders.

Gardens should also be well secured with fencing or hedges, while gates should be kept locked.

Owners are advised not to leave dogs out in open gardens and yards when they are not at home and, if possible, they should be brought into the house overnight.

A Suffolk Police statement added: 'Ensure your dog is chipped and, if neutered, mark the dog's tag as such as this makes them less attractive to thieves that may want to steal them for breeding.

'When out walking, if you let your dog off the lead, don't allow it to leave your sight.'

Anyone with information about the Barton Mills incident should contact police quoting crime reference 37/38708/20.

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