Dogs should have pet passports in a bid to tackle theft, a police boss has claimed.
Martin Surl, the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Gloucestershire, reckons ID documents would help combat the crime.
His remarks follow a surge in dognapping across the UK, after a rise in demand for puppies during lockdown sent prices rocketing.
Police chiefs have warned organised criminals have turned to the illicit trade because of the increased profits.
British charity DogLost recorded a 170% increase in the crime, from 172 mutts reported stolen in 2019 to 465 in 2020.
Mr Surl insisted the problem goes "far beyond the police" and needs tackling at an international level.
He said: “We've got to go far deeper than where we are at the moment. Pet passports, identity documents.
"On a car you know who it's bought from, it's got certain standards, it's got an MOT, if you sell it you have to put a document in.
"For a dog, something you absolutely love, you haven't got to do anything like that. All you have to do is a chip which nobody really checks anyway.
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"It's not hard to do, a simple piece of legislation. When you find a dog, the person has to prove it's theirs, not the other way around.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel pledged last month to "go after" pet thieves, while Nottinghamshire Police appointed a specialist officer to focus on the crime.
Mr Surl added: "Just going for the policing angle is ridiculous, you have to go far deeper than that."
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He said dealing with the problem needs the involvement of the RSPCA, border guard, trading standards and European police forces too.
Dog theft is not currently defined as a specific crime as they are classed as “property” under the law.
It means the number of offences recorded may appear lower than in reality.
Katy Bourne, the PCC for Sussex, said: "If you take a dog out of someone's back garden and you bung it in your car and it's all caught on CCTV that would be recorded as theft.
"If you steal a dog from somebody they're walking it on the lead that would be recorded in the high street as a robbery. None of it is specific to a dog."
Although Sussex Police flag cases as involving a dog, this depends on individual officers remembering to do so.
This has led to claims of inconsistency across the country.
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