The number of pets stolen in the capital has risen by over 25% in the past four years, figures obtained by ITV London reveal.
Between July 2012 and June 2013, 222 pets were stolen from loving owners.
In the same period between 2015 and 2016, 283 pets were taken.
That rise of 27 per cent, seen in freedom of information figures from the Metropolitan Police, reveal the scale of pet thefts in London.
In August, Hannah Boniface’s two dogs – Pippa and Errol – were snatched from a dog walker’s van.
I was in complete shock, I really didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless.
– HANNAH BONIFACE
The pair were found 10 days later, dumped on the roadside.
Hannah, of Peckham, south London, believes they were dumped because they cannot breed.
Charities are now warning that professional dog walkers are being targeted by organised gangs.
They advise owners should get their animals microchipped to prevent them being sold on.
Nik Oakley, from charity DogLost, said there is a “black market demand” for pets often associated with celebrities.
It tends to be designer dogs and there’s a particular growth in thefts of small, toy dogs such as pugs, chihuahuas and miniature French bulldogs.