New figures have revealed a rise in dogs being reported stolen in West Yorkshire.

A missing pets charity has said an increase in dog thefts across the UK is linked to the coronavirus pandemic, and warned new owners might accidentally be buying stolen dogs.

West Yorkshire Police recorded 199 dog thefts in 2021, according to a Freedom of Information request from Direct Line Pet Insurance.

This was up from 125 in 2020, and 167 in 2019 – before the pandemic.

Madeline Pike, veterinary nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance, said: "Unfortunately, the increase in dog ownership since the pandemic began and the subsequent rise in prices of these animals seems to make the crime even more appealing to thieves."

READ MORE: Thugs attack young blind man in Bradford and steal his new puppy

She said dog owners should take precautions such as keeping their pets on a lead when in busy areas, and avoiding leaving a dog tied up outside a shop, or left inside an empty car.

In West Yorkshire, there were 21 incidents of stolen canines per 100,000 households.

The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance said the demand for dogs during lockdown caused a "huge spike" in them being stolen for breeding, with their value also increasing.