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Pets: Theft

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 16240, tabled on 15 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of sentencing for pet theft at deterring that crime.

Answered on

23 June 2021

The government fully understands the deep distress caused by the theft of a much-loved pet and the importance of dealing with such crimes. All reported crimes should be taken seriously, investigated and, where appropriate, taken through the courts and met with tough sentences. The theft of a pet is a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment. Deterrence is one of the purposes of sentencing but there are other important aims, including public protection and a strong punitive element, to help make our streets and communities safer and to give victims confidence that justice has been served.

Earlier this year the Lord Chancellor, Home Secretary and Environment Secretary met to discuss a cross-government approach to address pet theft, and set up a cross-Government taskforce to investigate and tackle this issue.

This taskforce will gather evidence to understand the factors that may be contributing to any rise in pet thefts and to recommend any necessary measures to tackle the problem. It will consider the issue from end to end, including causes, prevention, reporting, and enforcement, examining every option available to protect families from this hurtful crime and make sure perpetrators feel the full force of the law. The taskforce is due to report its recommendations in the summer.