More than 30 dogs were reported stolen from around the county last year.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to Sussex Police by Newsquest's AI team revealed 32 dogs were reported taken in total.

This included six in May and four in August.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Sussex Police have set up Operation Collar to try and prevent these thefts.

The force has said that around 30 per cent of households in the county have dogs.

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This means there are likely to be a few hundred thousand dogs kept as pets in Sussex.

To minimise the risk of pets being stolen, dog owners have been advised to make sure their animals are microchipped and to not leave them unattended in gardens, cars, or outside shops.

People have also been advised to alert the police immediately if suspicious individuals are trying to distract or draw a dog's attention away from the owner.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: "We are taking action to prevent dog theft as soaring prices for pets during lockdown has seen a rise in theft nationally.

"Our dedicated Rural Crime Team (RCT) is tackling this devastating crime by working closely with partner agencies, gathering intelligence and highlighting crime prevention among the dog owning community. "

Police have encouraged anyone who believes their dog has been stolen or who has concerns about suspicious behaviour to report it online or to call 101.

Anyone with information about dog theft or puppy farming that wants to remain anonymous can call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.