Many suspected stolen dogs seized near Ipswich not microchipped, say police
- Credit: Archant
Many of the 83 suspected stolen dogs found at a site in Ipswich at the weekend are not microchipped, a senior Suffolk police officer has said.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said the lack of microchipping creates "a real problem" but officers are working "tirelessly" to reunite the pets with their owners.
Police executed a number of search warrants at West Meadows travellers' site, near Asda in Goddard Road, on Saturday afternoon and discovered 83 dogs of various breeds and ages.
Six people, three men and three women, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal and have been released on bail until April 16.
Many of the dogs are suspected to have been stolen from outside Suffolk.
Police have not revealed whether any dogs have yet been reunited and said they will be using databases to try to identify the animals.
Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live this morning, Det Ch Supt Bridger said: "Unfortunately we're finding that quite a lot of these animals haven't been chipped, which does create a real problem.
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"We're obviously liaising with police forces up and down the country and using other systems and databases to try to understand where they may have come from.
"We will work tirelessly at that and we are certainly committed to seeing it through because we do get the emotive nature of this crime, and we do know there are people out there desperately hoping that their animals will be involved.
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"Wherever possible and as soon as possible, we will work to reunite them."
A spokesman for Suffolk police said the process of reuniting the dogs "may take some time".
The spokesman said: “This is likely to be a complex ongoing inquiry, which includes being able to establish the ownership of the dogs we have found.
“A large proportion of the dogs are not easily identifiable in terms of where they originate from. At this stage our primary focus is to continue to try to identify them.
“We will seek to do that in various ways, although this may take some time.”
Meanwhile, Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, praised Suffolk police and added that he is continuing to push for a change in sentencing law around pet theft.
"Suffolk police should be commended for the operation they successfully executed to retrieve these dogs," he said.
"So often police forces don't always take this as seriously as it is, I'm glad Suffolk police have.
"The problem here though is to do with pet theft and there's some quite weak sentencing we have for those found guilty of it. It's not treated seriously enough in my view.
"I've been trying to get the Sentencing Council to change their guidelines around pet theft to try to encourage judges to be less lenient when it comes to the individuals who are found guilty.
"That has been unsuccessful but the latest action will be in parliament and the possibility of an amendment to the police and crime bill.
"I've started conversations with colleagues about the possibility of amending the bill to put something in there about pet theft.
"The problem is that if you don't have serious sentencing for pet thieves, not only does it mean that it's a high reward low risk crime, but also that a lot police forces will say: 'What's the point?'.
"They've gone to all the trouble of finding these people and then they just get away with a slap on the wrist."
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