52% of all dog thefts in the UK are the theft of dogs taken out of their own gardens.
However, while the obvious advice is to never let your dog into your garden unsupervised (and this is advice that all dog owners should follow) it can also be helpful to know how thieves think when it comes to stealing dogs; what are they looking for, what makes a target look easy or otherwise, and so on.
There is far more to this that could be contained in one article, but this article will attempt to provide a very basic outline of how dog thefts from gardens tend to go. Read on to learn more.
Dogs in gardens are comparatively far easier to steal than by say, wrestling a dog away from their owner, largely because their owners aren’t paying them attention when they put the dog in the garden.
This in turn comes from the fact that even though we all know dogs get stolen from gardens, we tend to get into a false sense of security when the dog is in the garden, particularly over time.
This is due to a combination of factors; and is both natural and understandable, as one should be able to feel that they and their pets are safe at home, including enclosed in the garden that forms part of that home; but sadly when it comes to dog theft that is not always the case.
While many dog owners start off taking their puppy into the garden on a lead, this soon becomes letting the puppy out for a few minutes off the lead while watching from the doorway, then letting the dog out on their own, and over time this can end up being putting the dog in the garden or leaving the dog in the garden for prolonged periods of time while you get on with other things.
This is really where the key risk of dogs being taken from gardens arises.
While opportunist thieves can and do simply spot a dog in a garden they like the look of and make the decision then and there to take it, this is not how dog thefts from gardens usually happens. Impulse thefts of this type are not usually conducted by career criminals or dog thieves with a plan.
Thieves that take dogs from gardens tend to take their time over things; this begins with spotting a dog that is out in a garden, and will generally involve at least a couple more visits on other occasions to see if the dog is still out (and so how long they are out for), if they are left in the garden regularly, if they tend to be left in the garden at set times or at certain points and generally, if there’s a pattern to things.
They will also try to identify if when the dog has been let out, they’re not going to be checked for half an hour or more, which is a very comfortable window of time for a thief to get well clear with the dog.
Dog thieves that target dogs in gardens are also looking for other things during these theoretical visits to scope out what is going on. They’re looking to see if someone in the home is in view and keeping an eye on the dog, if there are neighbours or other people around commonly who might spot a stranger or a theft, any cameras or security devices in place, and how easy or otherwise it would be to either get into the garden or get the dog out of the garden without actually entering it (like leaning over a low wall to pick it up).
They might also be looking for where in the garden they’re least likely to be spotted; and for pro dog thieves, they’ll be continually assessing the dog too, to see if they’re going to make it easier or harder to take them. For instance, does the dog go to the wall to see people walking past, hoping for attention? This would have a lot of appeal for a thief. A dog that is shy or defensive is a less sound bet; and one that barks or seems territorial might snap at a would-be thief.
The garden itself gets attention too; how high or secure is the wall or fencing, are any gates secured, basically, what about the garden would help or hinder a thief.
This all means that at the point when the thief is ready to move or sees the opportunity to take your dog, it is all over in seconds.
Something to bear in mind here too is that while everything outlined above takes into account a great many things pertaining to your dog, your garden, your home, people in your household, other people around, and your routine, a would-be dog thief isn’t going to hide in the bushes or sit outside of your house in a car with binoculars aimed at your dog for hours.
All of the information outlined above that savvy dog thieves use (either consciously or unconsciously) to decide on a theft target can be picked up in under a minute on a couple of separate trips. Someone walking past your garden, someone who scratches your dog behind the ear when your dog goes to the fence, like a hundred other people have done before without incident, all of these people could be a dog thief.
Most of them are not, but dog thieves look, and if they’re adept thieves, act, just like anyone else; they won’t trigger your instincts that something is wrong, and they’re highly unlikely to act in a suspicious manner, hang around in a white van peering over walls, or even let you see them in your area twice.
Don’t leave your dog in the garden unattended, and take into account all of the information above when it comes to securing your garden, supervising your dog, and preventing dog theft.