UK Government – ‘The theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment and so there is no need to introduce a separate offence.’
CPS: – ‘Theft is triable either-way with a maximum penalty in the Crown Court of seven years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and in the magistrates’ court, six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.’ – CPS
Pet Theft Reform – Only Crown Court can deliver sentences in excess of 6 months. For a case of theft to be heard before the Crown Court, the cases are either a) secondary offences, so tagged on to Burglary; b) repeat offenders or c) major offences of a value over £100,000. This is where the assumed monetary value of the pet becomes relevant.
As the sentencing guidelines currently stand, it will be impossible to secure a custodial sentence for most pet thefts because of the benchmark value of £500. Reality is, a custodial sentence is unlikely to apply unless it is a secondary offence used to justify and bolster a harsh primary sentence.
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Dr Daniel Allen @Dr_Dan_1