St Helens has one of the highest rates of animal theft on Merseyside, amid fears dognappers are targeting valuable breeds.
In 2012 alone, 27 animals were stolen across the borough - among more than 40 pets stolen in St Helens between 2010 and 2013.
New statistics also show that Staffordshire bull terriers are FOUR TIMES more likely to be reported stolen on Merseyside than any other breed.
Fourteen Staffies, known for their loyal and forgiving nature, were stolen across the region in the last two years.
As well as the stolen Staffies, three huskies were reported stolen, three labradors or retrievers, two bulldogs, two rottweilers and two Yorkshire terriers.
Expensive pedigree breeds like pugs, shih tzus and pomeranians were also reported stolen amid fears crooks may look to sell them on via the black market.
Merseyside Police’s dog section inspector, Gareth Phelps, said: “Burglars and thieves are opportunistic by nature and, with the majority of dog thefts occurring on private property, it may well be that offenders are taking anything of value including, on occasion, the family dog.”
But he added: “The number of reported dog thefts across Merseyside is very low and we do not believe there is a significant upward trend.”
Police work closely with the RSPCA and encourage anyone with information about stolen pets to get in touch.
Alternatively, people can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.