Dog stolen from Harborough district rescued during dramatic late-night police operation involving armed officers
Lupin, a springer spaniel, is now back safe and well with his ecstatic owner after police united across three counties to track him down
A dog stolen from a farm near Market Harborough was rescued just two hours later as three police forces – including armed officers - launched a quickfire cross-border operation.
Lupin, a springer spaniel, is now back safe and well with his ecstatic owner in the village of Hallaton after police united across three counties to track him down in the late-night 999 drama.
But the dog thieves managed to get away.
The beloved family pet was stolen from the farm under cover of darkness at about 10.15pm on Wednesday night in the latest of a string of dog thefts across Harborough.
He was recovered by police from the back of a vehicle near Newark, Nottinghamshire, about 50 miles north just after midnight yesterday (Thursday) after three forces raced into action.
Leicestershire Police were alerted when Lupin was snatched from the farm in Hallaton, police said.
The suspected thieves were quickly “traced in a vehicle” but they failed to stop for specialist armed officers from Lincolnshire Police firearms unit.
Nottinghamshire Police were told that a vehicle suspected to be carrying the springer spaniel had been driven into the Newark area at about 11.40pm on Wednesday night.
“Nottinghamshire Police initiated a pursuit utilising both forces’ operational support resources and the vehicle was followed through Newark before being abandoned in Besthorpe.
“The stolen dog was located nearby unharmed,” said Nottinghamshire Police.
“A thorough area search was conducted involving firearms, dog units and Newark response team but the offenders were not located.”
Det Insp Charles Edwards, of Market Harborough and Wigston CID, said: “Our officers are currently investigating an incident where a dog was taken from a farm in Hallaton at around 10pm on Wednesday March 3.
“It was reported that a vehicle had driven onto the farm and the occupants took the dog before making off.
“We were later informed the vehicle had been involved in a pursuit in Nottinghamshire before being abandoned.
“We were informed the dog was found inside it has since been returned to its owner.”
He said they are now stepping up the hunt for the thieves.
“Our enquiries into the incident are ongoing and we would ask anyone with information to contact us, quoting reference 21*123644,” said Det Insp Edwards.
Ch Supt Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: "We're taking dog thefts extremely seriously, especially at this current time when there appears to have been a rise in these crimes nationally.
"This incident shows how we work collaboratively with our colleagues across a wide area to track down any suspect and reach a positive conclusion for our victims.
"I'm glad that the dog was unharmed and that we were able to return him safely to his owner within two hours of being stolen."
Det Ch Insp Jon Shield, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “This shows cross-border collaboration at its best and we are proud to have played a part in getting the dog home safe.”
The latest dog theft comes after Assistant Chief Constable Julia Debenham, of Leicestershire Police, admitted that the mini-crime spree is devastating owners throughout the county.
ACC Debenham said: “Many of us in our force are dog owners.
“We therefore know the important part they play in your family and fully understand the distressing and devastating impact this crime has.”