The family of a dog stolen in a robbery in Raynes Park last month are appealing for the woman who found their pet’s collar to contact them.
Owner Mike Jasper had the collar of his missing Sprocker Spaniel Ted returned to him last Tuesday by an unknown woman.
Now Jasper’s family say they would like to ask the woman some key questions about when and where she found the collar to help their search for Ted and the criminals who took him.
The woman, who brought the collar back to Jasper’s house, has been asked to call 07931737047 so that the family can ask her a couple of crucial questions.
Jasper’s daughter Lucinda thanked the woman on behalf of her family for returning Ted’s collar.
She said: “We really appreciate her bringing it back to us.
“We do think she was being kind and had found it on the common.
“Really we just want to have a chat with her just to get those key bits of information.”
She explained that Jasper had been so shocked when he received the collar that he forgot to ask the woman these crucial questions.
She added: “Sadly, I was out putting up posters and so was my mum so we weren’t there to take over for him.”
Jasper, 66, was walking his 2-year-old Ted on Cannon Hill in Raynes Park in December when he was approached by a man who started asking questions about his dog.
He was shoved to the ground by another man and the two grabbed Ted and ran off, laughing.
Jasper and his family were left devastated.
Despite poster and internet campaigns, and the offer of a £5000 reward for Ted’s safe return, he has not been found.
Ted’s family now fear he will be used by his abductors for breeding puppies which can then be sold for profit.
Justine Quirk, a volunteer with the charity DogLost, said: “Ted’s case is particularly harrowing as the elderly owner was assaulted.
“It does seem that these people are willing to do anything to get their hands on a dog to make fast money.
“Especially given our current laws don’t give sufficient deterrents – it’s a low risk, high reward crime.
“It’s just heart-breaking, especially during lockdown.
“People see dogs as companions and a source of support, and for a lot of people they’re part of the family.”
Quirk advised dog-walkers to be more alert and make sure their dog is in eyeline at all times to avoid being victims of robbery.
She added: “If you feel uncomfortable at any point leave, get out of there quickly, you’re not being over-zealous by doing that.”
In October, Wayne May, a police liaison lost who works for DogLost, told the BBC that 2020 had been the worst year for dog theft over his 30-year career.
He blamed this on lockdown, as with more people are at home, the demand for companion animals to spend time with has increased.
This has pushed prices for pets up, with the result that criminals who steal animals and sell them on can get a much higher financial reward.