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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 16:35 GMT
Thieves 'targeting bull terriers'
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Many of the Staffordshire Bull Terriers are taken as puppies
Thieves may be specifically targeting Staffordshire Bull Terriers, a report obtained by the BBC says.

The Metropolitan Police document shows there was a 74% rise in stolen dogs across the London area last year, from 239 to 417, with many taken as puppies.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers made up 56% of all the dogs stolen.

The report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, says some criminals may be using the dogs to guard "criminal assets".

The worst areas for the thefts have been Croydon, Bromley, Greenwich, Haringey, Lambeth and Hackney.

In the financial years 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 respectively, 228 and 239 dogs were stolen.

That figure rose to 417 in 2005/2006.

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The report recommends further research into why Staffordshire Bull Terriers are so heavily targeted.

It quotes a dog website which says the dogs are "exceedingly protective of their family and make excellent guardians and watchdogs" and "excel in agility and obedience".

These factors - along with information on dogs being used in crime - suggest that some Staffordshire Bull Terriers could be used to commit crime, the report says.

The report states: "There is the possibility that such dogs could be used by criminals such as drug dealers or stolen property handlers to protect their criminal assets at various locations including homes, outbuildings or cars."

'Macho image'

Veronica Brown, of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council, says the breed's good nature - which runs contrary to popular opinion - may make them easier to steal.

She said: "I think many dogs get stolen and I think, yes, there is probably more inclination to steal Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

1. Stafford Bull Terrier - 56%
2. Rottweiler - 5%
3. German Shepherd - 4%
4. Cocker Spaniel - 2%
5. Jack Russell - 2%
Source: Met Police report

"They're so people orientated that they will go with anyone, contrary to their reputation. They're happy to go off with people. They just love people.

"Because of their macho image, people think they're going to look macho with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but the dogs would far rather be curled up by the fire."

The police document notes that thefts of dogs from people's homes seems to occur when they have advertised dogs, particularly puppies, for sale.

This can often result in several dogs being stolen at once.

Sometimes several suspects will attend a venue to view some puppies, and while one distracts the owner, another takes them.

Dogs have also been stolen from locked cars and from pet shops.

There were 24 cases of a dog actually being used to commit a crime, including 11 muggings and 11 assaults, according to the report.

In the 18 cases where a description was given, 10 were Staffordshire Bull Terriers and four were Pitbulls.

Some of your comments are below:

I'm 19 and own a Staffy cross rottweiler who is lovely and fine with kids and even cats. Because he looks like a pit bull cross I do sometimes get asked by people if he is a pit bull and a group of lads even asked to buy him for 70 on the spot. I have got to admit though sometimes if me or any of my family have to go out alone at night we do take him as he will protect us if get attacked, but he is our pet and not our guard.
Andrew, Birmingham

I have a white three year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who was rescued as a twelve week old puppy as the owner at the time was all ready bored with her and was going to sell her on for money to buy drugs. She loves people and welcomes everyone who comes into the house. She would much rather be curled up on a sofa with me, pushing herself up to me as close as she can possibly get.
Lyn Thurston, Chard, Somerset

I have two Staffies, they are the most affectionate breed around. They love people and children. I heard on radio 1 they are fighting dogs, this is only down to the owner and poor breeding with other terriers (American bull).
Stella parker, Bristol

I own two beautiful Staffies and they are the most hopeless guard dogs, in fact we've renamed the breed as Staffordshire Bull Terrified's! My two both adore people and will let anyone in the house because they are convinced that all my house guests have come to see them.

Don't EVER leave your Staffie unattended anywhere, its just not worth the risk.
Samantha Hart, Farnborough, UK

I have a 7 month old Staffie who just wants to be everyone's friend. We often have groups of young lads commenting on what a 'wicked' dog she is. We have had her chipped & she is on the national pet register but we are still scared stiff that someone may try to steel her because of the amount of attention she attracts. We never leave her unattended.
K Ruffler, Reading, Berkshire

As a responsible owner of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, there is much mis-conception of the breed. They are far from an ideal guard dog as they are way too people friendly. This is what makes them so easy to steal. Punish the deed not the breed.
Marie Davies, Bridgend, S Wales

I have two Staffordshire bull terriers who are the most lovable and playful dogs I've ever known. One of mine is American buck skin (creme coloured) and I get lots of people asking if they can buy him when out. Contrary to popular belief these dogs are not nasty at all and love people.
Lena, Cheshire

Why do people think Staffordshire Bull Terriers are tough dogs? They couldn't be more far from the truth. They're a very affectionate breed and the biggest risk you run with owning one is being licked to death. Our Stafford is a fine example of the breed's nature, she wants constant attention and loving, the only time she really gets cross is when you wake her up from sleeping in front of the fire or if she can't get on the sofa for a cuddle. Whenever friends come round she just wags her tail and gets very excited because she wants more attention! Yes they may follow you everywhere but this is because they love humans. These dogs would not protect criminal assets as they are not guard dogs and would rather spend their time sleeping. Loving and loyal YES but tough NO
RW, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Staffs are fantastic dogs. Easy to train and love children's company. They do not make good guard dogs and would probably lick an intruder to death.
Paul McCusker, Loughton, Essex

Brilliant! In my area loads of locals have these dogs because they think they look tougher with them and that they will deter robbers. Turns out they can't even prevent themselves from getting stolen.
Martin, London

My husband and I have a Staff x breed. Despite him being a xbreed we have been approached by total strangers and asked if we would sell him. We would no more part with him than one of the children or grandchildren. He is micro chipped and is a rescue dog bought for us by my eldest daughter - the best 50 she has ever spent! It does make us wary though of walking him in areas away from home.
J Lowrie, Burnley, Lancs

I had my Staffordshire stolen when he was 6 months old, and although we got him back within a week, he was never the same since. Eventually, he attacked my father and had to be put down. Stealing dogs is despicable, why would you want to steal a member of someone else's family?
Michael Wass, Consett, County Durham

I had my Staffordshire stolen when he was 6 months old, and although we got him back within a week, he was never the same since. Eventually, he attacked my father and had to be put down. Stealing dogs is despicable, why would you want to steal a member of someone else's family?
Michael Wass, Consett, County Durham

I recently had my English bald terrier Sonia stolen from my van. I went to the PDSA for advice. They recommended that I went looking around my local council estate. I could not believe what I was hearing. But I took their advice, within an hour I had found Sonia with a group of young men outside a chip shop. Fortunately I did not have too confront the heavies as I called Sonia and she came to me.
Jim Bowen, Southampton UK

I have two Staffords, neither one would have any hesitation about walking off with someone else! To be honest, if all these stereotypical 'hoodlums' think they look tough with a Stafford, they are sadly mistaken... Stick to your Burberry chav caps lovies!
Tamara, UK

I agree with Neil from Manchester. When walking my Staffie I'm often asked her age and sex (normally by dodgy looking people). She's almost 11 so I'm always sure to tell her age and the fact that she can't have puppies. Agree also that they are on the whole soppy as anything (it's the owners that make them aggressive), but I guess to a certain minority it makes them feel 'tough' to have such a muscular dog. Croydon has had a huge increase in Staffies being stolen, so I'm a little wary these days taking her out.
Lisa, Croydon

I own a Doberman and am quite surprised they are not on the top 5 stealable list.

We have had various 'dodgy' people asking us how much we've paid for her and the like. We had one guy who was painting the front of people houses constantly look into our lounge whilst up the ladder, I was terrified to leave our pup alone for weeks. Every time we went out with the pup he always asked lots of questions, I ignored him and haven't seen him for about a year now.

In a way I think that a Dobe's reputation is what stops them being stolen. Unlike a Staffy or a Rottie I think Dobes are known for being more 'temperamental', and if you didn't know the Dobe you were about to steal, you must be crazy...
Natalie, Hants, UK

I own three Staffordshire Bull Terriers. I was once followed home after a walk by a shifty looking bloke. I thought I was safe once I was in the house. I let the three dogs into the back garden which has double gates at the bottom which are always bolted. I carried on about my bother and then when I looked out I noticed the back gates were open. I rushed out and to my relief the dogs were just outside. I shouted them and they came running but as they did, a black car which was parked up at the end of my street sped off. I have no doubt in my mind that whoever was in the car had opened my gates and tried to coax my dogs to their car. Luckily enough, they are softies who won't venture far.
Sarah, St Helens

When walking my two Staffordshires I often get asked by people if I intend to mate them to sell on the puppies as I have one dog and one bitch who are both all white which is a rare colour. More often than not the people who are asking are a little on the dodgy looking side and I even vary my return home and take detours if I believe I'm being followed for fear of having my dogs stolen while I'm out. They are loveable dogs and are very much part of the family and it worries me that they will be targeted by criminals. I plan to get them micro chipped asap.
Neil, Manchester

I don't know why people risk stealing dogs - there's lots of Staffordshire bull terriers in the local pounds for rehoming up here. As with all fashion accessories people get sick of them and dump them. Meanwhile others are breeding them just as fast as possible to make a quick buck...

My rescue dog is a mongrel (collie x), a lovely, friendly, playful, pretty dog with no fashionable desirability whatsoever - but I love her.
JB, Newcastle

I own a 10 month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier who is mainly white. I feel it is a threat when I walk him and can't even tie him up outside a shop as I feel someone would take him. My Staffy loves people and could easily get into the wrong hands.
Nicole, Lincoln

My Staffordshire Bull Terrier went missing on the 17th August 2006 - a black and white bitch, very friendly, microchipped - from the garden in the Callands area of Warrington in Cheshire. Cannot believe I still haven't got her back I have tried all avenues to try and locate her but to no avail. What amazes me is that during my search I have been informed on many an occasion that not all vets, dog wardens and the like scan any dogs that are found or are new to a veterinary surgery. What is the point of having dogs microchipped if no-one bothers to scan them?
Wendy Crank, Warrington Cheshire

I have two Staffies and they're brilliant dogs. They are family pets and my three kids love them. including my 14 month old baby. But every time I walk them I get looks off of yobs and young men who I think are looking to steal them. I've had to have a large gate and fence on my garden to make sure they don't get stolen and I don't walk them or let them out after 8 pm. The problem is that all these rappers and musicians use them in music videos and give them the wrong image which makes the yobbos think they look cool and hard if they have one.
David Easton, Faversham, Kent, England

Staffords are hopeless watchdogs! My dog pays no attention to people approaching or entering my house apart from wagging his tail! This is typical of the breed. They may look tough but you won't find a more affectionate breed. Don't judge the breed by some dodgy owners!!
Tom Kelly, Bathgate West Lothian

I own a Rottweiler, which is shown to be the second most popular for thieves. I will always make sure I have a mobile phone with me should I ever need any help, for whatever reason, whilst on a dog walk. Make sure your dog is microchipped and try to walk in busy places and NEVER leave them in the car unattended - for reasons of theft and the heat that builds in a car even on a dull day.
M Clarke, Worthing

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