Crufts-winning chihuahua stolen in England

Valenchino Chihuahua Xena, which was named Best Puppy in Breed at Crufts 2014, is one of five chihuahuas stolen from a house in northern England. -- PHOTO: AFP/HUMBERSIDE POLICE
Valenchino Chihuahua Xena, which was named Best Puppy in Breed at Crufts 2014, is one of five chihuahuas stolen from a house in northern England. -- PHOTO: AFP/HUMBERSIDE POLICE

LONDON (AFP) - Police were searching Saturday for thieves who broke into a house in northern England and stole five chihuahuas, including the "best puppy in breed" champion at this year's Crufts competition.

Valenchino Chihuahua Xena was snatched along with four other dogs on Thursday.

Between them they are thought to be worth tens of thousands of dollars, although owner Mal Hilton said he was more concerned that they would come to harm.

"I'm 65 years old and I haven't cried for years until now. They are just like our children. We are devastated by this and we just want them back," he said.

He said thieves broke into his house in the village of Lissett, near Driffield in East Yorkshire, by smashing a window with an iron bar.

"I just want someone to hand them in - to the (animal charity) RSPCA, to a vet, to anywhere safe. It doesn't matter. Just leave them somewhere so we can get them back. I'm just so worried they will come to harm."

Xena is a 14-month-old fawn long-coat chihuahua who won at Crufts, the world's largest annual dog show, last month under her show name Valenchino Made of Candy.

She was taken along with her mother Io, grandmother Angel, and two other dogs called Pandora and Evie.

Police said thieves broke in during the day and likely took the dogs away in a wicker basket, along with a camera and lenses.

"The owner of the chihuahuas is desperate to find them," a spokesman for Humberside Police said.

"These dogs need to be reunited with their owner and police are appealing for anyone who knows anything to contact them immediately so that we can have a happy ending to this story."