HEXHAM’S MP has launched a new survey to determine the views of his constituency on how to tackle pet theft.

It comes as research has shown a higher demand for pets during the lockdown – with prices up around 400 per cent on the previous year.

It is also estimated thefts have risen by 250 per cent with criminal gangs involved.

The Government has recently launched a cross-departmental Pet Theft Taskforce to investigate the reported rise in pet theft since the start of lockdown and to look at new measures to tackle it.

The Kennel Club has said that less than five per cent of cases result in a criminal conviction and 52 per cent of dog thefts take place in gardens.

MP Guy Opperman said: “My dog Zola and cat Alfie are part of the family – I would hate the thought of anything happening to them.

“The rise in pet theft must be tackled. That’s why I’ve launched my pet theft survey to find out what more local people think should be done and I’ll be feeding the results back to the new Pet Theft Taskforce.”

Read more: Organised criminals turning to pet theft amid rise in demand for puppies

Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 166 per cent in the months between March and August following the start of lockdown last year. Local residents can take part in the survey by visiting guyopperman.co.uk/PetTheftSurvey.