Six people were arrested after 83 dogs were seized following a police operation involving a large deployment of officers.
Police, assisted by partner agencies, attended West Meadows, on the outskirts of Ipswich, on Saturday, March 20, where they executed a number of search warrants.
Officers were present at the site for almost 10 hours as they conducted thorough searches and as a result recovered dogs of various breeds and ages, which are suspected to be have been stolen.
Six people were subsequently arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal. They are all from Ipswich and their details are as follows: a 38-year-old man, two 34-year-old men and three women aged 46, 41 and 35.
They were all taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning but were released on bail, on Sunday, March 21, until Friday, April 16, pending further enquiries.
Whilst present at the site officers also identified multiple breaches of the Covid-19 legislation and issued fines to four individuals, with several others given dispersal notices.
A Dispersal Order under Section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 was put in place and remains active to minimise the likelihood of any further crime or disorder. This gives police officers the power to exclude a person from an area for a period of up to 48 hours.
Officers have been working to identify the owners of the dogs as quickly as they can, primarily through the use of scanning them for microchips in the first instance.
This work is ongoing and will involve liaison with other police forces, as many of the dogs are suspected to have been stolen from outside of Suffolk.
Detectives would like to reassure all those people who have contacted Suffolk Police to enquire as to whether their dog has been recovered, that everyone’s call or email will be acknowledged if it has not been already.
Officers are aware that many people will be anxious to know if their dog has been recovered and politely ask for victims to bear with them as they expedite these enquiries.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, Head of Crime, said: “This was a significant policing operation, which I hope demonstrates how seriously Suffolk Police is taking the issue of dog theft. We recognise that these crimes have a significant impact on the families affected and we will continue to disrupt criminals wherever we have information that we can act upon.
“This type of crime has become a particular problem across the entire country since the first lockdown began 12-months ago, due to the value and demand for certain breeds. Our officers have worked tirelessly to develop intelligence and identify those who are believed to be responsible.
“I am grateful for the support we received from our partner agency colleagues – and to the wider community – for their assistance in helping us to have this impact.
“I know many victims of these crimes will be anxious to know whether or not we have recovered their pet. I would like to reassure them that we are working as quickly as possible to identify who all the dogs belong to and aim to reunite them with their owners as soon as we can.”
Anyone who may have information regarding dog thefts is asked to contact South CID at Landmark House in Ipswich, quoting reference: 13719/21.
Phone – Call 101.
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their online form: https://imsva91-ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=www.crimestoppers%2duk.org&umid=DB6736DD-BE12-AE05-A794-2A571BE1E3A7&auth=94c48cf6a6e20d71c34c08f31a742b9f22534c22-326e92fdf4500ab1e4b7fd05d7808bb9a1c302b6