A moment a suspected dog thief stole the family’s pug seconds after its owner walked into a store

This is the heartbreaking moment a suspected dog thief stole a family’s beloved pug just seconds after its owner walked into a local convenience store.

Artist Nick Devereux, 43, has told how his family was devastated after the bobbed-haired thief snatched 18-month-old Ray in just 30 seconds.

Dramatic CCTV footage shows the man walking towards the £1,000 pet before calming himself down by unhooking his leash from the railings, then strolling casually down the street a few yards from Acton Town tube station in West London.

Nick told how his wife Vanessa and their sons Marlon, nine, and Winston, seven, were devastated by the brazen robbery on Tuesday afternoon.

He told how life without the beloved black pet, who weighs 10 kilos, has become ‘unbearable’

Nick told MailOnline: ‘I’m totally in disbelief the one time I take my eyes off the dog someone comes and takes him away.

‘It’s absolutely heartbreaking. The children are in pieces. It’s just a nightmare – an absolute nightmare.

“We are trying to do everything we can to get him back. The scariest thing is the thought of my dog ​​in someone else’s hands.

“It’s amazing to imagine how quickly your life can be turned upside down.”

In a direct appeal to the alleged thief, the devastated father said: ‘Please give it back to him. We are a devoted family to this dog and two completely broken little boys.

Ray the pug (pictured) was taken away after his owner walked into a shop near Acton Town tube station in west London CCTV footage shows the man walking towards the £1,000 pet before calming himself down by unhooking his leash from the railings and then strolling casually down the street

“If you can take him to a vet and just say you found him, we can all get our lives back together.”

Nick told how he launched a frantic search when he discovered Ray was missing after entering the Gunnersbury Road shop called The Local to buy a snack.

He hopes CCTV footage taken from two separate angles outside the store will aid in Ray’s safe return.

A clip – which is just 32 seconds long – shows the suspected thief approaching the little black dog from the sidewalk.

The suspected thief – who is wearing a blue sweater with a green hoodie underneath, blue jeans and black and white sneakers – heads straight for the railings where Ray is tied up.

CCTV footage shows the suspected thief walking towards the dog, casually untying his leash before walking down the street with him.  The suspected dog thief (pictured) wearing a blue jumper with a green hoodie underneath, blue jeans and black and white trainers

CCTV footage shows the suspected thief walking towards the dog, casually untying his leash before walking down the street with him. The suspected dog thief (pictured) wearing a blue jumper with a green hoodie underneath, blue jeans and black and white trainers

He is seen adjusting a black Oakley backpack before leaning down and petting the animal.

The suspected thief only looks around once, then unties his leash, which he briefly lets go.

A woman riding a mobility scooter is unaware of the drama unfolding behind her as the alleged dognapper walks away with Ray in a casual but determined manner.

Dog theft on the rise in UK, statistics show

Data from 31 police forces across the UK showed 1,882 dog thefts were reported in 2021.

This is an increase of more than 25% from the 1,500 offenses recorded in 2020.

In 2020, the charity DogLost recorded a 170% increase in dog thefts.

In 2019, 172 dogs were reported stolen compared to 465 in 2020.

But experts working at lost pet charities believe the true figure is higher.

A survey by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne showed that in 2020, 22% of 124,729 people had or knew someone whose dog had been stolen in the past year.

It showed that 79% of dog owners were also worried about their dog being snatched during the day, with a larger majority worried about walking their pet at night.

The rate of dog thefts has increased in the UK in recent years, with 1,881 dogs reported as stolen in 2021

The rate of dog thefts has increased in the UK in recent years, with 1,881 dogs reported as stolen in 2021

A second clip – lasting one minute 21 seconds – shows Nick entering the store shortly before 4.40pm before the man appears about 30 seconds later.

He disappears from view as he bends down and unties the leash before reappearing in shot and driving off with the stolen dog.

A distraught Nick said, “My studio is just around the corner. I was taking Ray for a walk and walked into the store.

“I still normally have him in my arms and carry him. Unfortunately the store had recently been renovated and they said I couldn’t take it with me anymore.

“It’s literally the first time I’ve put it down and left it outside. I just looked away from the ball for a second.

Describing how the drama unfolded, he said, “I was literally going into the store to grab a snack. There was a person in front of me in the queue.

“I checked the dog, came back and joined the queue, then looked out the window and could see the leash was not there.

“I can’t believe how fast it all happened. He did it all in 30 seconds. As far as he’s concerned, he timed it perfectly.

Nick said: ‘I was freaking out and running down the street asking anyone who listened to me if they had seen the dog.

“I was running around hysterically. There were a lot of people in the street.

“It was rush hour and people were coming home from work – but no one had seen it. I was so emotional. I just felt terribly guilty for leaving him tied up.

“I was extremely worried as the dog is quite anxious at the best of times without me. That’s why I take it everywhere.

“He doesn’t like to be left alone. The idea of ​​him being with a random stranger is shocking.

After searching in vain, Nick called the police and returned to his studio to start making posters in a plea for help.

Nick Devereux has told how his wife Vanessa and their sons Marlon, nine, and Winston, seven, were devastated by the alleged brazen robbery on Tuesday afternoon.  Pictured: The young boys with their dog Ray

Nick Devereux has told how his wife Vanessa and their sons Marlon, nine, and Winston, seven, were devastated by the alleged brazen robbery on Tuesday afternoon. Pictured: The young boys with their dog Ray

Messages were posted on social media and the DogLost UK website issued alerts.

Close-up footage shows the thief has dust on his knees, making it look like he may be working as a decorator or laborer.

It is hoped that Ray – who has been microchipped and has his owner’s contact details on his collar – will prove “too hot to handle” and be returned safely.

Nick said: ‘I immediately reported it to the police.

“I know they’re so busy and they’ve been very professional and polite, but nothing is happening and you really feel like it’s up to you and your community.

The heartbroken family (pictured) posted messages on social media and the DogLost UK website in the hope of finding their pug.  It is hoped Ray - who has been microchipped and has his owner's details on his collar - will prove 'too hot to handle' and be returned safely

The heartbroken family (pictured) posted messages on social media and the DogLost UK website in the hope of finding their pug. It is hoped Ray – who has been microchipped and has his owner’s details on his collar – will prove ‘too hot to handle’ and be returned safely

“We 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 leave.’

“Hopefully if he suddenly sees posters of him absolutely everywhere, everyone’s looking out and there’s stuff on social media that might scare him.”

“It feels like an opportunistic 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 feels so surreal to see someone not jumping off or really looking around in a frantic way. He’s so flippant about it.

Describing the loss of Ray Nick, he said: ‘It’s devastating. I see it more than my parents, my wife and my children put together.

“He is with me all day in my studio. I never lose sight of him.

“I am always very vigilant. I never enter stores that don’t allow me to enter with a dog.

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