'Handbag dogs' now dominate the UK’s top 10 stolen breeds as pet thefts are on the rise, according to new figures.

Six dogs are reported stolen every day, with 2,017 recorded by police last year – a rise of eight per cent in just 12 months.

Campaigners say the small breeds made famous by celebrities are an easy target for thieves and can fetch hundreds or even thousands of pounds on the black market.

Popular dogs to steal also include Jack Russell’s and Yorkshire terriers, while working breeds including cocker spaniels, German shepherds and the Labrador, made up the rest of the top ten.

Today is Dog Theft Awareness Day and campaign co-founder Richard Jordan said: “High value breeds including Chihuahuas, pugs, and French bulldogs are being targeted to fuel this huge demand.

“Often this crime goes unreported where victims pay ransom demands or they find their stolen pets for sale without contacting the police. If dog theft

was a specific crime it would improve the accuracy of the figures and more could be done to prevent the crime.”

A total of 5,704 dogs were snatched over the last three years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For more information on Pet Theft Awareness Day and to sign their petition for a change in the law, visit https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/80lUCmOzzI1w9QmCGufrt