Suffolk Police is working with other forces across Britain to identify the owners of 83 dogs seized during a raid on a traveller site.
A large deployment of officers – assisted by partner agencies – attended West Meadows near Ipswich yesterday afternoon and executed a number of search warrants at the location.
Officers were present at the site for almost 10 hours as they conducted thorough searches and as a result, they recovered 83 dogs of various breeds and ages, which are suspected to be have been stolen.
Six local people were subsequently arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal.
“Enquires will now commence to identify owners of the dogs and Suffolk Police will be liaising with other forces in the region”, a spokesperson for the force said.
Whilst present at the site yesterday, officers also identified multiple breaches of the COVID-19 legislation and issued fines to four individuals, with several others given dispersal notices.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, Head of Crime, said: “This was a highly successful and 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 would also like to pay tribute to the dedication and professionalism of the Constabulary teams involved in yesterday’s operation.
“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.”
Detectives are appealing for anyone who may have information regarding the dog thefts to contact Suffolk Police by calling 101.