Nottinghamshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner Emma Foody said: “There is growing alarm – both locally and nationally – over the threat of dog theft.
“This has been fuelled by a number of distressing incidents which have eroded public confidence.”
Chief Insp Amy Styles-Jones, appointed the dog theft lead, has three pet Chihuahuas called Tink, Jasper and Josie.
She said: “As an animal lover myself I relish the prospect of ensuring we take a compassionate response to the developing situation in regards to dog theft and any animal cruelty.”
The move comes as demand for puppies has developed during lockdown, resulting in a stark increase in the number of dogs stolen by criminals.
Speaking on LBC Radio, Ms Patel said she was “looking into what kind of measures can be put in place in terms of the criminality”.
Ms Patel said: “This is absolutely shocking, it’s a shocking crime that is taking place”, adding that she understood in London “it’s very prevalent right now”.
“I’m looking at this, I am absolutely looking at what we can do.”
It comes after former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called for tougher sentences for pet thieves amid a spike in the crime.
Ms Patel said she is working with Sir Iain and talking to police because “we need to actually understand what is going on here”.
Ms Patel added: “This is a very serious issue… it’s absolutely horrible, quite frankly.
“I can give your listeners this assurance now. We are definitely looking into what kind of measures can be put in place in terms of the criminality, because obviously that is the piece that sits with me, not the sentencing, what we might be able to do in laws to absolutely go after these individuals that are stealing pets and making money out of this.”