A woman who rescues stolen pets has said the crime has “rocketed out of control” during lockdown.

Lisa Dean, from Nottinghamshire, runs a volunteer group called Beauty’s Legacy which supports owners to retrieve their stolen animals.

“We just can’t keep up with the cries for help from people,” she said.

Experts have put the increase in thefts during lockdown down to the enormous increase in pet ownership.

Ms Dean’s group, which is one of several set up to trace stolen pets, was founded after her own cat went missing.

She was so touched by the online support she had to retrieve her pet, she decided to help other owners.

She said although they were “recovering more and more dogs, due to public awareness, the number of dogs being stolen is still on the increase”.

Home Office Minister Kit Malthouse said: “Pet theft is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment and it must be confronted wherever it occurs.”

Video journalist: John Pakey

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