Attention cat owners! While you might not be surprised to find the latest tablet or mobile phone on the black market, burglars are also stealing pet cats. Cat theft in the UK is becoming a soaring problem; a new study from pet insurance provider Direct Line has shown that cat theft has risen by an alarming 40% over the last three years.

In 2016, 261 cats were reported stolen from their homes. But researchers suggest the number of cat thefts might actually be much higher; as many as 360,000 cat owners believe their cats were stolen over the last year alone. And sadly, only 18% of the reported stolen cats were recovered and returned safely to their homes.

Since the police do not typically report information about breeds in these cases, researchers cannot be sure whether the breed of the cat is a leading reason behind the thefts. However, the available data does suggest that Bengal cats seem to be “the most sought after.” Due to their impressive leopard-like markings, Bengal cats stand out for being uniquely beautiful and fierce, and desirable to burglars.

There is no greater comfort than returning home from a hard day’s work and cuddling up with your furry friend, so here are a few tips to keep them safe! When leaving the house, always make sure your pet is safely indoors, be aware of strangers in your neighborhood and remember to report anything suspicious to the appropriate authorities.

“If an owner believes their cat is missing, they should first check the immediate vicinity such as in neighboring gardens or garages as well as asking local people if they have seen it,” said Prit Powar, Head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line.

To find more useful information on how to protect your pet from theft, click here to visit PAWS, an organization dedicated to the protection of animals.