More than 50 dogs have been stolen from properties across Hull in the past three years, it has been revealed.
A total of 19 dogs have been stolen this year alone, compared to 20 last year and 17 in 2015, figures from a Freedom of Information request by the Mail show.
The most common breed stolen was Staffordshire Bull Terriers with a total of 14 taken since 2015.
They are followed by Chihuahuas with four taken since 2015 and Akitas with four stolen in the past 12 months.
Pugs are also on the list with three stolen in the past three years.
The DogLost organisation, dedicated to reuniting pets with their owners, has warned the true figure is much higher.
DogLost spokesman Nik Oakley said: “DogLost’s figures show that the crime has increased by 24 per cent in the last three years.
“Our estimation is that one in three dogs that are reunited are done so in suspicious circumstances.
“Originally it was opportunist theft and the dog would be sold on quickly to feed a habit.
“Now it is much more organised crime. There is evidence to suggest that when the selling of stolen metals became more difficult then those people turned to dogs.
“Many more dogs are now stolen for breeding as it is a profitable operation.”
Humberside Police are encouraging dog owners to take steps to keep their dogs safe including keeping windows and doors locked, even when you are at home, and making sure garden fences are hard to climb by adding trellis and spiky planting.
Police are also advising people to be wary of any stranger who appears over interested in their dog and never leave their pet unattended, whether that be in the garden, outside a shop or in a car.
Crime reduction officer Andy Allen said: “All dogs have to be micro chipped by law now, so make sure your dog is chipped and that you keep the register up to date especially if you move house.
“We would always advise people to report concerns over any suspicious activity in their area, whether that be someone who looks as if they may be about to commit a crime or even attempting to sell you something which you believe may have been stolen.
“We need the public to keep us informed of any criminal or suspicious activity in their area.”
Suspicious activity can be reported to Humberside Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The breeds stolen between 2015 and 2017
Lurcher/Whippet/Bull Master Cross – 1
Mastiff/Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross – 1
Staffordshire Bull Terrier – 14
Whippet/Greyhound/Collie Cross – 2