Stolen dogs: Carmarthenshire and Briton Ferry raids 'uncover 80'

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Image caption,
Police said the dogs stolen were often of "incredibly high value"

More than 80 dogs thought to have been stolen have been rescued by police during raids.

The dogs and puppies are said to be worth tens of thousands of pounds, Dyfed-Powys and South Wales (SWP) police forces said.

Between 70 and 80 were found in Carmarthenshire and another six in Briton Ferry, at the weekend.

The six have since been returned to their owners and an investigation into the thefts is under way.

"These dogs are not merely items of financial value, these are living creatures who feel pain and suffering and loss at being stolen and they are much loved family members in many instances," said Supt Cath Larkman, of SWP.

One panicked animal in Briton Ferry fell into water on its release and was saved from drowning by an officer, she explaining, adding she was "pleased these dogs" were back with their owners. 

Puppies not microchipped

On Sunday, Dyfed-Powys Police found dogs and puppies in outbuildings in Carmarthenshire.

Det Insp Barry Kelly said officers visited a property after a pet owner reported on Friday the theft of five bitches and 17 puppies.

"On attendance, officers found a number of dogs, some of which have been identified through microchips," he said.

"We estimate there to have been 70 to 80 dogs at the property, with the total value reaching tens of thousands of pounds."

Media caption,
An organised crime expert on the rising number of dog thefts in the UK

The force said it was scanning microchips to find the owners and officers were still at the property earlier.

Det Insp Kelly said: "The problem we have is that the puppies won't have been chipped, so unless they are feeding from the mother dog while we are there, it will be very difficult to trace their owners."

One person was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods at the Carmarthenshire property and is in custody.

"We have had seven crimes reported to us in respect of dog thefts in the past six months," Det Insp Kelly said.

"The officers in the case will review these investigations and re-engage with the victims.

"Although we have made an arrest, our enquiries are still at an early stage."

Det Insp Kelly said the value of dogs stolen on one occasion was estimated to be about £40,000.

"Which goes to show these are incredibly high value thefts," he said.