Dognapping Ransoms are Big Business in Italy

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It’s “The Italian Job: Dog Edition.” Dognapping, also known as Pet Flipping, is on the rise in Italy – beloved pooches being stolen and ransomed back to owners.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Italy has seen a huge rise in dognapping cases in 2015. The thieves usually stick to small or toy dogs, such as Chihuahuas, presumably because their size makes it easier to steal and transport. And we’re talking big business here – these creeps are raking in 5 million euros ($5.61 million), by selling the dogs on the black market or demanding a ransom from desperate owners.

Related: Pet Flipping – The New “In” Thing in Crime

Overall, dognapping numbers have tripled in last year, with as many as 30,000 dogs stolen. The most popular were miniature dogs – 3,500 Chihuahuas were taken from their homes (up from 1,400 in 2014). Chi puppies can go for €2,500 ($4,000 US) on the black market. Cities reporting the highest number of thefts have been Rome, Florence, Milan, Parma and Naples.

Related: Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds To Steal

Because the demand for these types of dogs is on the rise, the Italian Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment (AIDDA) believes that these numbers are probably higher, due to the fact that many owners don’t report the ransom demands to police. They report that female dogs are the most sought after, because of their ability to breed.

But dog owners are fighting back. They’ve used social media networks to their advantage, setting up “Cani rapiti” (snatched dogs) groups to exchange photos and information to try and track abducted pups. The AIDAA recommends that Italian owners keep a close eye on their dogs, never leaving them unattended outside or in cars.

[Source: The Telegraph]