Harborough MP backs tougher sentences for dognappers

He is speaking out after a string of dogs have been stolen in high-profile crimes across Harborough over the last 12 months

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 1:45 pm

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is backing much tougher sentences for cruel dognappers as they will face up to seven years behind bars.

The MP is speaking out after a string of dogs have been stolen in high-profile crimes across Harborough over the last 12 months.

Neil said he welcomed and supported a hard-hitting new report by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce.

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is backing much tougher sentences for cruel dognappers as they will face up to seven years behind bars.

The special unit was set up by Ministers to investigate the highly-emotive issue – after the number of dogs stolen nationally has gone through the roof during the Covid pandemic.

Pet theft is to be made a specific offence.

Recording and data collection will be honed and improved while new requirements to register more details on microchip databases will be imposed.

“I know this is something that has unfortunately affected some of my constituents in Harborough personally.

“I am pleased to see the findings of the report and proposed actions to tackle this abhorrent crime, including making it a specific offence.

“Dogs are not just pets.

“They are hugely-important members of families and companions for millions of people across the country and having your pet stolen is a truly terrible experience,” said Neil.

“This is something I’ve raised centrally with Ministers on the back of constituents contacting me.

“Some of them even said they were no longer comfortable walking outside with their dogs because of fear of theft.

“I hope they will welcome these measures and I look forward to working together with Ministers and locally with Leicestershire Police on this important matter.”

Lisa Dean runs locally-based charity Beauty’s Legacy, which helps to find lost and stolen dogs across the East Midlands.

The lifelong dog lover and campaigner told the Harborough Mail today: “We are over the moon with the proposed changes.

“Members of our team are part of the taskforce.

“We are proud to have such a close working relationship with the police and organisations such as stolen and missing pets alliance.

“Our strapline at Beauty’s Legacy has always been that this isn’t theft but out and out abduction!

“It’s just so cruel, brutal and heartless – and leaves so many poor pet-owners utterly devastated,” stressed Lisa.

“We are proud to see this become a reality and to see that we are finally making headway.

“Up until now it has been a low risk high profit crime - this will flip that on its head altogether.

“Tougher sentencing will make it far more high risk and make them think twice.

“We will also be making the microchipping system more efficient with one single access point for all the databases - making it much easier for us to track a lost or stolen animal.

“It will also make it harder to re-register a keeper’s details on the microchip with the new additional requirements needed to register.

“This easy crime is suddenly becoming far more difficult for villains to carry out – and we are backing that right up to the hilt,” added Lisa.

“The stark message is – don’t steal people’s dogs or you could end up spending a very long time locked up in jail.”

She spoke out just two weeks after a pet sausage dog stolen six months ago was found when police raided a house in Market Harborough.

The thin male wire-haired dachshund called Rummy was recovered as officers executed a warrant in Welland Park Road on Tuesday August 17.

Police swooped on the house after being tipped off by Lisa’s Beauty’s Legacy animal welfare group.

Five-year-old Rummy was one of eight dachshunds stolen from a kennels near Swadlincote, Derbyshire, 45 miles north of Market Harborough, on February 10.

The charming little dog was quickly reunited with his ecstatic owner Shelley Tomsett, 62, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

She told the Mail that she was “overjoyed” to have her beloved Rummy home again.

You can find out more about Beauty’s Legacy and the fantastic work that they do on their website here: https://www.beautyslegacy.co.uk