In a recent report by the BBC "Lockdown year 'worst ever' for dog thefts" (See report here)
For many dog owners, the coronavirus pandemic has meant more time at home with their canine companions.
However, some experts are claiming the demand for dogs during lockdown has led to a significant increase in pets being stolen, with one - Wayne May from the organisation Dog Lost - saying: "I've been doing this for 30 years now and it's the worst ever year I've known".
"Unfortunately, due to lockdown, people are at home more and they're looking for companion animals to take up their time.
"Sadly the criminals capitalised on this. It's pushed the price of dogs and puppies up in general, which has inadvertently sparked a high rise in dog thefts."
His view is shared by Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, who said: "Unfortunately in lockdown everyone wanted a dog and the prices went up and up.
"The criminals looked at those figures... and put two and two together."
Sussex Police is taking action to prevent dog theft as soaring prices for pets during lockdown has seen a rise in theft nationally.
Inspector Andrea Leahy, from the Rural Crime Team, said: "Dog theft is an abhorrent crime where criminals selfishly steal beloved pets from their families - sometimes to exploit these poor creatures by selling them on at inflated prices or breeding them for monetary gain.
"The emotional impact of a missing dog is considerable, with victims left bereft and searching for their much-loved family member, in some cases not knowing whether they have been lost or taken.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of these incidents, it can sometimes be difficult for police to identify whether or not a crime has occurred and, if it has, if there are any realistic investigative lines of enquiry.