Home Secretary Priti Patel recently suggested that pet theft could be upgraded to a more serious offence, meaning harsher penalties could apply.

Accused of pet theft?

Have you been accused of pet theft? Contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. Our criminal defence lawyers deal with all types of theft allegations. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The rise in dog theft

Figures obtained by the BBC show that the number of dog thefts rose significantly in Northumbria, Devon, Cornwall and Leicestershire last year. Some other police areas also saw an increase in figures compared to 2019.

Speaking on LBC radio, Home Secretary Priti Patel described the news as ‘absolutely shocking’. She went on to say that she was in talks about upgrading pet theft to a more serious offence, meaning that more substantial penalties could apply.

What are the current laws?

Currently, stealing a pet amounts to theft, and in some cases could even amount to burglary. Theft carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence, while burglary of a dwelling house carries a maximum 14-year prison sentence.

Furthermore, a judge can depart from sentencing guidelines, if required. This might happen if more harm has been caused because the “items stolen were of substantial value to the loser – regardless of monetary worth”. Also, where “emotional distress” has been caused.

Are new laws needed?

Given the potential severity of the penalties, it seems unnecessary for the law to be upgraded. Those accused of pet theft can already face prison sentences if convicted, making the law more than sufficient to deal with animal theft cases.

Therefore, the creation of new legislation would be nonsensical. But of course, this is only our professional opinion. It remains to be seen whether Priti Patel will make good her promise – or whether her talks will gain little traction.


Legislative changes or not, our criminal defence lawyers are available to help you. If you have been accused of pet theft, contact us straight away. We can get to work on your defence, ensuring you achieve the best possible outcome.

For free initial legal advice, call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also email us at enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form and we’ll be in touch soon.