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Pooch rustlers cash in on owners' upset

Beloved pooches are being stolen for huge rewards by criminals in the dog-napping capital of Britain.

This Is Lancashire: VICTIM: Sue Marrin VICTIM: Sue Marrin

Kent has more dogs stolen for rewards, breeding, coursing and lamping illegal night hunting with high powered torches than anywhere else in the country.

One-in-three of all dogs stolen are in Kent, according to internet pet registration group Doglost which says some owners are paying up to £20,000 for the return of their pet.

Dog-nappers wait for owners to give out their details on missing posters, then telephone them demanding huge sums of money.

Victims are told their dog will be harmed or killed if authorities are told, and an exchange point is set up in a secluded place at night, with most people too scared to report the crime.

Many dogs are sold to puppy farms where people can earn up to 1 million a year dog breeding according to south east co-ordinator for Doglost Jill Cook, from Orpington.

She said: "The problem is on the increase. People will pay a lot of money to get their dog back. Someone has recently paid £20,000.

"Lurchers, labradors and working dogs are taken for breeding factories but any canine which someone will pay money to get back is taken. The culprits can become very threatening if they don't get what they want."

Mother-of-one Sue Marrin, 48, of Sweyne Road, Swanscombe, has not seen her 18-month-old lurcher-whippet cross bitch, worth £300, since it was stolen from outside a charity shop, on October 10.

She said: "No one seems to want to treat the problem seriously. My dog is probably being used for coursing or lamping. It is horrible to think of."

According to Doglost there are around 200 dogs stolen in Kent each week. Lost dogs are posted at www.doglost.co.uk



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