The PSNI in Northern Ireland have warned about a major upsurge in dog theft an an article in one of the weekend papers here says dog thefts are on the rise with criminal gangs at work, targeting small pedigree dogs in particular. Cavaliers sadly have always been one of the most attractive breeds to steal too.
The Irish story noted that several hundred dogs have already been reported stolen this year to the DSPCA and that many of the dogs are stolen to order and sold on in Northern Ireland or the UK.
In the UK I note there is information going around that thieves are sticking coloured pins or stickers on gates to mark houses with dogs for people stealing them to be used as bait for fighting dogs.
I do not recall **ever** seeing so many dogs being reported to rescues and SPCAs or posted up online as stolen, as in the past couple of months.
The way to make your dog less attractive to thieves is to NEUTER (many of these dogs are wanted for breeding or to sell on to breeders), CHIP (the ONLY failsafe way you can legally identify a dog as still being yours if someone else has it, according to UK police), and KEEP YOUR DOG INSIDE when not at home. I strongly advise getting a second tag for your dog that notes it is neutered and chipped, two things that may cause a thief to dump the dog or leave it to a pound where it might be found and scanned and returned. Mine also all say 'reward if found' on their tags.
I note that someone in Ireland has said on another rescue site that her elderly dog was stolen after they put her in her harness for a walk and left her waiting outside by the door while they got the other dog ready -- stolen within 2 minutes by thieves who waited at their fence (which is 50 feet from their front door), climbed the front fence, grabbed the dog and drove off.
Please please please be careful and do not leave your dogs in the back or front garden, or outside a shop, or in a car while you run in to get something.