It appeared to be a relatively informal organisation with the main purpose of rounding up or arresting Muggle-borns and "blood traitors" (when, at the time, simply being one made one an outlaw). However, they also responded when the Taboo curse was triggered by someone using the Dark Lord's name. At least some of them based themselves in a Snatcher Camp in the Forest of Dean.
The Snatchers organisation was formed by the Ministry of Magic after it was taken over by Lord Voldemort on 1 August 1997, with the purpose of rounding up Muggle-borns, blood traitors and Order of the Phoenix members, i.e. Undesirables on the run. Snatchers were all over the country and Snatcher camps were formed.
When Ron Weasley temporarily abandoned the Horcrux hunt with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, he was cornered by five Snatchers, who hoped that he was a Muggle-born so they could turn him in to the Ministry of Magic for a reward. However, he told them that he was Stan Shunpike. While they were arguing about whether or not he was lying (Ron suggested that they were not all that intelligent, and thought that one of them even had a trace of Troll blood), Ron managed to seize two Snatcher's wands and then escape.
Around Easter of 1998, Fenrir Greyback's group of Snatchers tracked down a group of wizards and goblins that included Dean Thomas and Griphook, whom they captured. It is likely that they were responsible for the deaths of Dean and Griphook's other travelling companions, Ted Tonks, Dirk Cresswell, and Gornuk.
Soon after, the same group discovered Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, after Harry accidentally triggered the Taboo on Voldemort's name. Harry claimed that he was "Vernon Dudley', a Slytherin student and son of a Ministry official. Ron claimed to be Stan Shunpike again, but was not believed, and then said he was "Barny Weasley". Hermione said she was Penelope Clearwater and a half-blood. Their story may have been believed, but Hermione's picture was spotted in the Daily Prophet, which declared her to be "the Mudblood who is known to be travelling with Harry Potter".
Greyback then decided to bring the group to Malfoy Manor, where he seemed particularly eager to bite Hermione Granger. However, all the Snatchers but Greyback were stunned by Bellatrix Lestrange after she spotted Godric Gryffindor's Sword among the items they had seized. The Snatchers and the Death Eaters were ultimately thwarted, and the trio escaped along with a few other prisoners.
Shortly before midnight on 1 May, 1998, Scabior led the Snatchers in a charge to the Hogwarts Grounds in order to take part in the Battle of Hogwarts. They were unware of the magical protections around the school; three of their number were killed on the spot when they crossed the magical barrier. After the Death Eaters broke down the protective enchantments, the Snatchers stormed into the Wooden Bridge and started a short duel with Neville Longbottom that resulted in the collapse of the bridge and the deaths of Scabior and several of the Snatchers. The remaining Snatchers were either killed in battle, sent to Azkaban, or fled the country after the fall of the Dark Lord.
The Snatchers seem to have been a militia formed from wizarding mercenaries less able and competent than Voldemort's elite Death Eaters and led by 'pack leaders' such as Fenrir Greyback. They were subordinate to the Death Eaters, as demonstrated by the disdainful treatment Greyback and his gang received at Malfoy Manor. Despite outnumbering Bellatrix Lestrange four to one, they were ignominiously defeated.
It is possible that skilled Snatchers were appointed as Death Eaters, as this seems to fit in with Lord Voldemort's claim that he "rewards his helpers". As there were a dozen Death Eaters guarding the village of Hogsmeade alone, it is likely that Lord Voldemort was recruiting more Death Eaters to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, and those particular ones were Snatchers who managed to get on Voldemort's good side. This would be an ideal way to recruit new Death Eaters, and eliminate those who were not worthy of the Dark Mark in Voldemort's eyes. Voldemort used their large numbers to his advantage when he attacked Hogwarts; utilising them to test the ancient castle's magical defences as well as overwhelming the defenders when they assaulted the castle itself.
Some of the Snatchers seem to be well aware of their inferiority to the Death Eaters and the Ministry that they were controlling. While they turn in Muggle-borns and blood-traitors for bounty money, they believed that if they turn in Harry Potter to the Ministry instead of directly to Voldemort, the Ministry would take all the glory while leaving the platoon of Snatchers out of the transaction.
Unlike the Death Eaters, who were a highly regimented and uniformed organisation, the Snatchers had no formal dress code, and as such the apparel of each Snatcher was unique. As their work required them to travel the length and breadth of the country, and deal with changing weather conditions, most Snatchers chose to garb themselves in clothes such as thick jumpers, hooded sweatshirts, jackets made of leather, fur or other heavy weather-proof materials, woollen hats and boots or other cross-country suitable footwear, and favoured dark shades of black, brown, grey, blue, red and, green to blend in with surroundings.
Each Snatcher wore a strip of dark red fabric tied around his or her left arm, signifying their position within the new regime. These armbands were also worn by members of the Ministry Police suggesting a possible connection between the two groups. Some Snatchers also chose to smear their eyes with some sort of black make-up. This was presumably a protective measure to minimise sun glare while pursuing their quarry, and also to appear more intimidating.
- Various Witches and Wizards
- Fenrir Greyback (leader)
- Chief Snatcher
- Unidentified Snatcher (I)
- Unidentified Snatcher (II)
- Unidentified Snatcher (IV)
- Unidentified Snatcher (V)
- Unidentified female Snatcher during the Battle of Hogwarts.
- Three unidentified Snatchers who disintegrated during the Battle of Hogwarts.
- Foul-smelling Snatcher
- Unidentified Male Snatcher during the Battle of Hogwarts
- Unidentified male fat Snatcher at Diagon Alley
Behind the scenes
- The word Snatcher has been translated into other languages, including Polish: Szmalcownik (sing.), Szmalcownicy (pl.) Instead of creating a neologism, the translator decided to use much more appropriate word designed during World War II - "Szmalcownicy".
- In the film adaptation, instead of a few Snatchers, there are hundreds, just as was done with the Death Eaters, to the point of becoming a secondary army of foot soldiers, similar to the dark creatures.
- The Snatchers bear a remarkable resemblance to the Nazi Gestapo and Schutzstaffel, which composed the Einsatzgruppen that rounded up Jews and others targeted by them before and during World War II.
- In the first and second film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows each Snatcher wears a strip of red fabric tied around his or her left arm. This is an obvious reference to the swastika armbands worn by members of the Nazi secret service or the red armbands worn by Communist secret police during the Russian Civil War. Furthermore, several Snatchers are seen sporting leather trench coats, which were commonly worn by members of the Nazi Gestapo.
- In the first & second film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, instead of Greyback being the leader, Scabior appears to be leading the party and is seen interrogating the ones they snatch.
- When Snatchers charge at Hogwarts to participate in the final battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, they act as a militia, supporting the regulars, in this case Death Eaters.
- In the film Scabior plays with the word Snatcher, saying Snatch 'em.
- The Snatchers are very similar to the Scourers that once terrorized the nascent wizarding community of America.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault