The Gangs That Steal Your Puppies

The pandemic did the dog thieves good. As the demand for pets increased – as many of us stayed home all day every day – the prices of dogs soared and criminals sought to capitalize on them.

The number of stolen dogs in the UK increased 19 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, the most obvious form of dog crime. But illegal imports have also increased significantly as coveted breeds bred on puppy farms have been shipped to the UK to cater to anyone desperate for a French bulldog, Pomeranian or dachshund puppy.

In this new VICE documentary, with access to the minds behind the crimes and the people on the front lines trying to prevent them, we meet a gang that rob dogs from parks and homes and learn why illegal puppy farms become one of the The fastest growing illegal markets in Europe have become.


Two illegal dog importers removing European microchips with a scalpel and implanting fake British ones before they seal the skin with superglue. They claim that up to 70 percent of Britain’s dog needs are met by illegal puppy farms in Eastern Europe. Photos: VICE


Two dog thieves who recently got into the canine “business” from drug trafficking with a stolen XL American Bully and a puppy they bred from it.

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A dog that has its European microchip removed and a counterfeit UK microchip implanted for sale in the UK market.

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The tools of commerce; These importers use a scanner to find the microchip and then pull it out with a small scalpel before inserting the new one and taping the skin in place.

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This Staffordshire Bull Terrier named “Eco” was stolen from a park in Whitechapel. With the help of online animal detectives, the owners were able to locate the dog up to a property. After eight hours of surveillance, they saw Eco being taken out for a brief moment, whereupon the owners grabbed them and set off.

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Ceilidh, Eco’s owner, was thrilled when she was able to “kidnap” her dog from the thieves.

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With police not giving dog crime a priority, an online army of animal detectives has filled the void. Here, VICE’s Livvy Haydock meets Lisa Dean at her local pub HQ while she works on a new case of stolen Cocker Spaniels.

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The Lilley family had two of their cocker spaniels stolen from their home in the middle of the night. They are currently launching a nationwide campaign to get them back.

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A property where stolen dogs are kept. These dogs were equipped with electroshock collars that stun them.

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This dog thief, known as “Jamie”, made a fortune stealing and reselling people’s dogs.

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