NFU Mutual has seen a rise in the cost of theft of both pet and working dogs over the past year, with some farms losing several sheepdogs at a time.

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual said: “We’re hearing that some owners are no longer walking pets in remote locations, and others are changing their routines to protect their pets – but the threat to pets left unsupervised in gardens may not be appreciated by some.

“Although dog owners are on increasingly high alert for dog thieves when they are out, there’s a false sense of security when they’re at home. With one in six owners admitting their dog has escaped from home, it’s never been more important to keep your outdoor space secure and your dog in sight.

“Thefts are taking place all over the country and NFU Mutual is also dealing with reports of stolen working dogs. We have seen a number of cases where multiple sheepdogs have been taken from farms at a single time, which is an extremely worrying trend and hitting farmers hard.”

One farming couple still haven’t given up the search for their brindle collie cross called Rabbit, who was worth over £4,000 and was snatched from their dairy farm over two years ago.