Writing in his regular column in the Worksop Guardian, Alexander Stafford MP says pet theft must be stamped out.
Alexander's article can be viewed in this week's Worksop Guardian and reads:
I have been particularly concerned by a surge in reports of dog theft across South Yorkshire during the pandemic. The lifestyle shift to staying at home has seen a large number of people deciding to welcome a new four-legged member to the family, and consequently the demand for pets has outstripped supply. Criminals are taking advantage of this state of affairs, stealing much beloved pets to sell them on for huge profit.
I do not need to explain the anguish suffered by those who have their canine friend taken in such a callous and cruel manner. Constituents of all ages, genders, and backgrounds have come to me broken hearted - that is not to mention those other dog owners who now live in fear that their pet may be stolen at any moment too. People are terrified when leaving their dogs in their gardens or taking them for a walk, particularly as dog thefts are becoming increasingly violent. It is clear that enough is enough.
My online survey on dog theft received nearly a thousand responses urging immediate and decisive action against these criminals. My constituents’ feedback rightly indicated that this is about more than just simply theft of an object. Dogs are an integral part of our families, and harsh penalties should apply to those who seek to violate this special relationship. Furthermore, in my view, dog theft is a core matter of safety and criminal justice which affects those who do not own pets as well as those who do. It is crime, pure and simple - we cannot and shall not tolerate those who inflict any sort of harm on our communities, whatever that may be. You cannot take what is not yours, and a red line has been crossed when personal safety is compromised. This is not the way we want to live.
I am determined to tackle this evil head on and leave these thugs with nowhere to hide. I have set up the Rother Valley Rural Crime Task Force, consisting of local residents, to campaign on exactly these issues. We are pressing South Yorkshire Police to appoint a dedicated dog theft lead, who will work every single day to protect residents and their pets from these lawless gangs. Nottinghamshire Police has done exactly this in our neighbouring county to overwhelming approval from residents. It is a huge step forwards and there is no reason why South Yorkshire Police should not prioritise the issue in our region too. If you have comments on dog theft in our area or wish to join my Rother Valley Rural Crime Task Force, please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.