Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences.

Pet Theft Reform 2020: Revise the sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act 1968 to reclassify pet theft as a specific crime. Ensure that monetary value is irrelevant for the categorisation of dog and cat theft crime for sentencing purposes. Recognise pet theft as a category 2 offence or above.

This petition closed on 4 Sep 2020 with 143,635 signatures


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Recent Documents related to Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences.

1. Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences.
03/03/2020 - Petitions

Found: Pet Theft Reform 2020: Revise the sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act 1968 to reclassify pet theft

2. Written Evidence: Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (AWSB13) (PDF)
24/07/2019 - Bill Documents

Found: the issue of dog meat consumption 4. Reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own

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5. Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021 (c. 11)
29/04/2021 - Bill Documents

Found: “serious terrorism offence”: England and Wales3.Offences relevant for provisions of this Act relating to Northern

Latest Documents
Recent Speeches related to Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences.

1. Pet Theft
02/07/2018 - Westminster Hall

1: relating to pet theft.It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Sharma. The pet theft petition - Speech Link

2. Pet Theft
19/10/2020 - Westminster Hall

1: Written evidence to the Petitions Committee on pet theft, reported to the House on 16 June, 23 June and - Speech Link
2: considered e-petitions 244530 and 300071 relating to pet theft.It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship - Speech Link

3. Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill
23/10/2020 - Commons Chamber

1: Pre-legislative Scrutiny of the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill 2017, HC 709 - Speech Link
2: important Bill, inspired by the story of my own dog, a four-year-old springer spaniel who I named Poppy - Speech Link
3: speech.The Bill amends the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which currently sets out a maximum penalty - Speech Link

4. Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill
16/04/2021 - Lords Chamber

1: deserves to live a dignified life and we should act conscientiously, while acknowledging that this is - Speech Link

5. Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (First sitting)
03/02/2021 - Public Bill Committees

1: the purposes of sentencing the seriousness of an offence under any of sections 4, 5, 6(1) and (2), 7 - Speech Link
2: it a more serious animal cruelty offence for the purpose of sentencing if the guilty person had filmed - Speech Link
3: who campaigned relentlessly on the issue, used a specific example to illustrate the point. If the Committee - Speech Link

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Under the Theft Act, animal companions are legally regarded as inanimate objects when stolen. Stolen pets come under theft offences such as burglary or theft from a person. Sentencing is dependent on the monetary value of the stolen animal (under or above £500), and the crime is treated as a category 3 (fine to 2 years in custody) or 4 offence (fine to 36 weeks in custody) in magistrates court.

Pet Theft Reform would make pet theft a category 2 offence with a starting point of 2 years custody.


Petition Signatures over time

Government Response

The sentencing guidelines now take account of the emotional distress and harm that theft of personal items such as a pet can have on the victim and recommends higher penalties for such offences.


The Government is sympathetic to the emotional trauma which the theft of a much-loved pet can cause. 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 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.

Sentencing is entirely a matter for our independent courts and must take into account the circumstances of each case. When deciding on an appropriate sentence, the courts consider any aggravating and mitigating factors, in line with sentencing guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council. In February 2016 the Sentencing Council updated its guidelines in relation to sentencing for theft offences. The guidelines take account of the emotional distress, and therefore harm, that theft of personal items such as a pet can have on the victim, and accordingly recommends higher penalties for such offences.

Since 6 April 2016, all dogs in England and Wales must be microchipped and registered on an approved database by the time they are eight weeks’ old. Since we made microchipping compulsory, the number of dogs microchipped has gone up from around 58% of all dogs in 2013 to over 90% of all dogs. This means that about 8.5 million dogs in the United Kingdom are microchipped. We also advise cat owners to get their cat microchipped and it was a manifesto commitment to introduce compulsory microchipping for cats. As part of this commitment we recently completed a Call for Evidence on cat microchipping which attracted over 3,000 responses. We are in the process of analysing the responses and will publish a summary of the responses together with a way forward in due course.

Owners should report the theft of their dog or cat to the database on which the animal’s microchip is registered, along with the corresponding crime reference number. There is a much better chance that animals will be returned to their owners if they are microchipped and their records kept up to date. Owners can take certain precautions to deter the theft of their dog, such as never letting their pet out of sight when it is being exercised; varying their routines when walking their dogs and not leaving their dog unattended when in public.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


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