Shock new figures reveal that cat theft has more than doubled in four years with thieves targeting expensive and exotic breeds like the Bengal cat.
A Freedom of Information request by pet theft reform campaigners to 48 police authorities across the UK revealed a 114% rise in the crime in the period 2015-18.
The figures revealed that the striking Bengal cat, which can sell upwards of £400-£500, seemed to be at greatest risk of being stolen, with 19% of all recorded thefts being for the exotic breed.
Bengals are particularly sought after as pets, their surge in popularity possibly being linked to several high profile celebrity Bengal owners such as Kourtney Kardashian, Liz Hurley and Bruce Springsteen.
Not far behind were Tabby cats and the pricey British Shorthair cats, including the popular British Blue, accounting for 14% of recorded cat thefts. The aristocratic-looking and expensive Persian cat followed at 11%.
The least favoured breed for cat thieves was Ginger cats.
Some police authorities recorded significantly higher numbers of cat thefts than others with the Metropolitan Police region being the UK’s number one cat theft hotspot, with 18% of all recorded cat thefts in the UK.
However actual police prosecution or cautions followed in just 1% of the Metropolitan Police’s recorded cases.
This was in stark contrast to Cumbria Constabulary where 50% of recorded cat thefts were converted into police cautions.
The discrepancy could be explained by of a lack of uniformity in the way police record and enforce cat theft.
Meanwhile all of the cat thefts prosecuted in West Mercia occurred during 2018, with none between 2015 and 2017.
Almost half of the police forces who provided data failed to prosecute a single case of cat theft or issue a police caution over the entire four-year period.
Responding to these statistics, Pet Theft Awareness campaigner Toni Clarke, and owner of missing pedigree cat Clooney, said: “The reaction of the policeman answering my call could only be described as instant, disinterested dismissal, citing a cat’s ‘right to roam’ and that they were in a separate category due to this well-accepted, nomadic instinct.”
Richard Jordan of Pet Theft Awareness added: “Cat theft is a crime which seems to be on the up. We are campaigning for cat theft reform so that when a cat disappears, the assumption that it has gone walkabout is replaced with proper police recording, enforcement and uniformity of approach across the board.”
Police Authorities – top 10 for cat thefts
Metropolitan Police Service: 17.7% of all recorded cat thefts
West Yorkshire Police: 8.9% of all recorded cat thefts
Kent Police: 7.2% of all recorded cat thefts
Essex Police; Greater Manchester Police: 6.2% of all recorded cat thefts
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary: 5.9% of all recorded cat thefts
South Yorkshire Police: 3.7% of all recorded cat thefts
Staffordshire Police: 3.0% of all recorded cat thefts
Humberside Police: 2.9% of all recorded cat thefts
Lancashire Constabulary: 2.7% of all recorded cat thefts
Thames Valley Police: 2.6% of all recorded cat thefts