This is the heartbreaking moment a suspected dog snatcher stole a family’s beloved pet Pug just seconds after its owner popped into a local convenience store.
Artist Nick Devereux, 43, told how his family have been left devastated after the cropped-haired thief snatched 18-month old Ray in just 30 seconds.
Dramatic CCTV footage shows the man walking towards the £1,000 pedigree pet before calming untying his lead from railings then casually strolling off down the street just yards from Acton Town tube station in west London.
Nick told how wife Vanessa and their son Marlon, nine, and Winston, aged seven, have been left devastated by the brazen theft on Tuesday afternoon.
He told how life without the much-loved black pet, who weighs 10 kilos, has become ‘unbearable’
Nick told MailOnline: ‘I’m in utter disbelief how the one time I take my eye off the dog, someone comes and takes him away.
‘It’s absolutely heartbreaking. The kids are in bits. It’s just a nightmare – an absolute nightmare.
‘We’re trying to do everything we can to get him back. The most frightening thing is the thought of my dog in somebody else’s hands.
‘It’s extraordinary to imagine just how quickly your life can be turned upside down.’
In a direct appeal to the suspected thief, the devastated dad said: ‘Please give him back. We are a family who is devoted to this dog and two little boys who are absolutely broken.
Ray the pug (pictured) was taken after his owner popped into a shop near Acton Town tube station in West London. CCTV footage shows the man walking towards the £1,000 pedigree pet before calming untying his lead from railings then casually strolling off down the street
‘If you can take him to a vet and just say you found him then we can all get back to our lives again.’
Nick told how he launched a frantic search when he discovered Ray was missing after he popped into the store in Gunnersbury Road called The Local to buy a snack.
He is hoping that the CCTV footage taken from two separate angles outside the shop will help lead to Ray’s safe return.
One clip – which is just 32 seconds long – shows the suspected thief approaching the little black dog from the pavement.
The suspected thief – who is wearing a blue jumper with a green hoodie underneath, blue jeans and black and white trainers – heads straight towards railings where Ray is tied up.
CCTV footage shows the suspected thief walking up to the dog, casually untying his lead before strolling down the street with him. The suspected dog snatcher (pictured) wearing a blue jumper with a green hoodie underneath, blue jeans and black and white trainers
He is seen adjusting a black Oakley rucksack before bending down and stroking the pet.
The suspected thief casually looks round just once then unties his lead, which he briefly lets go of.
A woman getting onto a mobility scooter is unaware of the drama unfolding behind her as the suspected dognapper strolls off with Ray in a casual but purposeful manner.
Dog thefts on the rise in the UK, statistics show
Data from 31 police forces across the UK showed that 1,882 dog thefts were reported in 2021.
This was more than a 25 per cent rise of 1,500 offences recorded in 2020.
In 2020, the charity DogLost saw a 170 per cent rise in dog thefts.
In 2019 172 dogs were reported stolen compared with 465 in 2020.
But experts working in lost pet charities believe the true figure is higher.
A survey conducted by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, showed that in 2020, 22 per cent of 124,729 people had or knew someone whose dog had been stolen in the last year.
It showed that 79 per cent of dog owners were also fearful that their dog could get snatched in the day, with a greater majority fearing walking their pets at night.
The rate of dog thefts has risen in the UK over the past few years, with 1,881 dogs being reported as stolen in 2021
A second clip – which is one minute 21 seconds long – shows Nick walking into the shop shortly before 4.40pm before the man comes into view around 30 seconds later.
He disappears from sight as he bends down and unties the lead before reappearing into shot and heading off with the stolen dog.
Distraught Nick said: ‘My studio is just round the corner. I was taking Ray for a walk and went into the shop.
‘I always normally have him in my arms and carry him in. Unfortunately the shop had recently been refurbished and they said I can’t take him in with me anymore.
‘This is literally the first time I put him down and left him outside. I just took my eye off the ball for a second.’
Describing how the drama unfolded he said: ‘I was literally going into the shop to get a snack. There was one person in front of me in the queue.
‘I checked on the dog, came back and rejoined the queue then looked out of the window and I could see the lead wasn’t there.
‘I just can’t believe how quickly it all happened. He did it all within 30 seconds. As far as he was concerned he timed it absolutely perfectly.’
Nick said: ‘I was panicking and rushing around the street asking whoever would listen to me if they had seen the dog.
‘I was running around hysterically. There were quite a few people in the street.
‘It was rush hour and people were coming home from work – but nobody had seen him. I was so emotional. I just felt terrible guilt at having left him tied up.
‘I was extremely concerned as the dog is quite anxious at the best of times without me. That’s why I take him everywhere.
‘He doesn’t like being left alone. The thought of him being with some random stranger is shocking.’
After he searched in vain Nick called police and returned to his studio to begin making up posters in an appeal for help.
Nick Devereux told how wife Vanessa and their son Marlon, nine, and Winston, aged seven, have been left devastated by the brazen suspected theft on Tuesday afternoon. Pictured: The young boys with their dog Ray
Messages have been posted on social media and the website DogLost UK has put out alerts.
Close up images shows the thief has dust on his knees giving the impression he may be working as a decorator or labourer.
It’s hoped Ray – who has been microchipped and has his owner’s details on his collar – will prove ‘too hot to handle’ and will be safely returned.
Nick said: ‘I reported it to the police immediately.
‘I know they are so busy and they’ve been very professional and polite but nothing is happening and you really do feel like it’s down to you and your community.
The heartbroken family (pictured) have posted messages on social media and the website DogLost UK in hope to find their pug. It’s hoped Ray – who has been microchipped and has his owner’s details on his collar – will prove ‘too hot to handle’ and will be safely returned
‘We have put a note on the posters with a message to the man saying ‘Please just take him to a vet and say you found him and just leave’.
‘I’m hoping that if he suddenly sees posters of him absolutely everywhere, there’s everyone looking out and there’s stuff over social media that maybe he might get scared.
‘It looks like an opportunist thing but at the same time he seemed to think very quickly and he was so relaxed.
‘There’s another side of me that thinks this guy knows what he’s doing.
‘It seems so surreal to see someone not darting off or really looking around in a frantic way. He is just so casual about it.’
Describing the loss of Ray Nick said: ‘It’s devastating. I see him more than my parents, my wife and my kids put together.
‘He’s with me all day in my studio. I never lose sight of him.
‘I’m always very vigilant. I never go into shops that won’t allow me to go in with a dog.’