They hope the security devices, costing around £130, will deter thieves from striking and record their faces if they do. With pedigree puppies costing thousands of pounds, dogs have become a lucrative market for criminals. Police say successive lockdowns have resulted in a rise in sales, as people buy pooches for company, and a corresponding spike in the number of thefts.
The use of cameras emerged at an online public meeting with police chiefs in Norfolk.
Amanda Knight, who runs a website for dog owners in the area, said she was receiving emails “two or three times a week” from worried owners.
Some described being approached by strangers asking if their dog was for sale, while others reported suspected thieves blowing whistles to attract dogs, she said.
Ms Knight added: “This has resulted in a tremendous amount of anxiety for these people.
“They are so worried about going out for a walk that some have even started wearing body cams.”
Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey told the meeting he was a victim of dog theft in 2019. Luckily his pet was recovered.
Although the overall figures for thefts are relatively small, police acknowledge the psychological impact of losing a beloved pet.
Just last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced she was reviewing penalties for stealing pets following pressure for harsher punishment.
Mr Bailey told the meeting: “I have been a victim and the pain is unbearable. I understand people’s anxiety and fears. This has now become a significant issue and social media is forever carrying stories.”
The chief constable said his dog had been returned to him and was “thankfully asleep at my feet”. He declined to give any further details.
He sought to reassure dog owners saying: “I’m not aware of anybody being assaulted or having a dog physically taken from them in a robbery.
“I am not aware of dogs being stolen when they are out for walks, it is rather they are being stolen from kennels and gardens and backyards.”
Data compiled by the DogLost charity revealed a 170 percent rise in thefts last year compared with 2019.
Campaigners have urged police forces to set up special dognapping squads to crack down on gangs.
On Tuesday, officers rescued six dogs, mainly a mixture of bulldog breeds, from the boot of a car after they were stolen in Staplehurst, Kent.
Kent Police said: “It has since been established that they had been stolen from a nearby home and have been returned to their owner.
“The vehicle they were found in has also been seized and is suspected to have been stolen from the London area.” Officers are still searching for the culprits.