One million people believe their pet dogs or cats have been stolen

Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance provides up to £1,000 towards the advertising costs for a lost dog or cat and up to £750 compensation if the pet is lost or stolen and not returned

New research from Sainsbury’s Finance whose Pet Insurance* provides up to £1,000 towards the advertising costs for a lost dog or cat, reveals that over 1 million UK residents believe that they have had a pet cat or dog stolen over the past five years. Unfortunately, the research also indicates that if you lose your animal, the chances of you being reunited are slim as some 61% of people who have suffered from a pet cat or dog going missing since November 2002 never saw them again.

Steve Johnson, Head of Pet Insurance, Sainsbury’s Finance said: "It’s difficult to know the full scale of dog and cat theft because it’s impossible to know for sure if the cat or dog has been stolen, lost or suffered an accident. The scale of the problem is also underestimated because it’s not always reported to the police – only 12%* of people who have lost their pet over the past five years actually notified them."

The Bank’s research and findings from the Missing Pets Bureau,** which report that 38% of dogs reported to them as missing are actually stolen, suggests pet theft is a very real crime that should be taken seriously.

Johnson continues: "Many victims of lost or stolen cats and dogs may find that their pet insurance policy will offer little or no support towards the recovery of their pets. Around a quarter*** of all pet insurance policies offer no reward for the return of lost or stolen cats and dogs and will not provide financial assistance to owners who want to try and find their missing pet by placing advertisements. We think this should be covered as standard"

Sainsbury’s Finance believes that there are three main reasons why pets are being stolen:

Resale price: Some pets are stolen because of their value. Bengal cats for example, are becoming increasingly popular with cat owners but they are very expensive to buy. Costs can vary from between £500 to thousands of pounds. Thieves stand to make a lot of money by stealing pedigree animals and selling them on.

Breeding: Pedigree animals can be stolen for breeding purposes. Puppies and kittens from certain breeds are sold for hundreds or thousands of pounds each.

Ransom: Some pets are stolen and then offered back to their owners for a ransom. In these cases criminals demand often thousands of pounds for the safe return of a pet.

Breeds most likely to be stolen**:

Dogs: English Springer Spaniel, Border Terrier, Boxer, Yorkshire Terrier and Labrador Retriever
Cats: Burmese, Persian, Siamese, Maine Coon and British Short Hair

Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance provides up to £1,000 towards the advertising costs for a lost dog or cat and up to £750 compensation if the pet is lost or stolen and not returned. Through a partnership with Missing Pets Bureau the bank also offers pet owners FREE pet ID tags that link to microchips and DNA identification.

In an attempt to secure the safe return of their pet, 71% of people who had their cat or dog go missing over the past five years, turned to their neighbours for help, 44% put up posters in their neighbourhood and 13% placed an advertisement in the local paper*. Two in five (40%) informed the RSPCA or equivalent local dog or cat home of their lost pet, whilst only 12% contacted the police.

Sainsbury’s Finance offers the following tips on how to reduce the chances of your pet going missing or worse, being stolen:

  • Ensure that your pet wears a collar and pet identification tag
  • Have your pet micro-chipped. This takes seconds and is virtually painless. Consult your local vet for details
  • Keep garden boundaries as secure as possible to prevent your dog from escaping and also to deter thieves from entering
  • Always supervise your dog, whether it is in your own garden or in a public area
  • Try to avoid tying your dog up outside a shop or leaving it unattended
  • If you use a dog walker, make sure that they are reputable
  • Vary your routes when walking your dog

Pet ID tags provided by Missing Pets Bureau and Sainsbury’s link to microchips and DNA identification****. They give 24-hour ‘Petback Protect’ support, 365-days-year, to get lost and stolen pets back to their owners fast. The tags are secure because they display a freephone number for people to call if they find a pet missing, and a serial number that links to the owner’s personal details on Missing Pets Bureau’s database. This is important as without the owner’s personal details, their identity is protected and a criminal cannot hold their pet to ransom.

Good quality pet insurance does not need to be expensive, good cover at a competitive price can be found by shopping around.


Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance is underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

* Based on an independent online survey conducted by Canvasse Opinion on behalf Sainsbury’s Bank. A total of 1557 interviews were conducted across the UK amongst adults aged 18 and over. Interviews were carried out between 1st – 6th November 2007. The consumer omnibus research uses a large sample size that reflects the demographic profile of the UK. Given this it is possible to extrapolate figures and make projections from the research results within appropriate confidence intervals.

**Missing Pets Bureau data 2008. More information available at
*** Defaqto’s Aequos Database, November 2007 (24% of dog and 21% of cat policies respectively).

**** 12 months’ free membership of "Petback Protect", fee required thereafter.

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