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8 September 2021, 14:13
The law on pet abduction is set to change after a rise on reported pet thefts over lockdown.
Pet abduction in England is set to become a new criminal offence following in thefts over lockdown.
Currently, the law treats pet theft as loss of owner's property, but ministers are now wanting new laws to take into account the emotional distress abductions can cause.
As reported by the BBC, a pet theft taskforce was set up in response to a spike in pet thefts over lockdown, which reported that around 2,000 dogs were stolen last year.
The proposal to change the law is one of a string of recommendations outlined in the report.
The taskforce is comprised of government officials, police, prosecutors, and local authorities, and they have received evidence from animal welfare groups, campaigners, academics and other experts.
It was found that seven out of 10 of pet thefts involved dogs.
Currently, offences under the Theft Act 1968 carry a maximum term of seven years, but ministers have said that that being used. This is due to the fact that sentencing usually depends on the monetary value of what was stolen.
We don't yet know what the possible new maximum term could be under the new proposals.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Stealing a pet is an awful crime which can cause families great emotional distress whilst callous criminals line their pockets.
"The new offence of pet abduction acknowledges that animals are far more than just property and will give police an additional tool to bring these sickening individuals to justice."