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Police reassure owners after dognapping false alarms

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There have been several social media reports of attempted dog thefts locally (picture posed by model)
There have been several social media reports of attempted dog thefts locally (picture posed by model)

POLICE have moved to reassure dog owners over false alarms posted on social media about apparent dognapping incidents in Hampshire and Dorset.

Concern had risen following several reports of attempted dog thefts locally. One involved two men at Buckland Rings in Lymington who were said to be “trying to entice” a dog to them with treats.

But it turned out to be a good Samaritan returning a runaway pet to its owner.

In Christchurch, there were further false claims of an official from the RSPCA warning dog walkers that her friend had to use pepper spray on two men trying to steal her dogs at Stanpit Marsh.

In fact, the woman did not work for the RSPCA, and Dorset Police said they had received no report of any attempted dog-snatching.

Dorset Police has said figures for the crime have gone down in the county and were “relatively low”, while Hampshire Constabulary said that in the New Forest it had received no reports of dognapping so far this year.

Countywide, Hampshire police said that in 2020 it had received 26 reports of theft, or attempted thefts of dogs. So far this year there have been five reports of theft, and five of attempted theft.

Insp. Korine Bishop, who runs the force’s Countrywatch team, said: “I’ve been aware recently of the increasing concern online around dog thefts in Hampshire.

“This post is really to reassure that these figures are not what we are seeing.”

A police spokesperson added: “We are not seeing the number of dog thefts, or attempted thefts, reported to us to the extent that is being discussed or suggested online via social media.”

However, both police forces are also urging people to take sensible precautions to safeguard their pets.

Insp. Bishop said dogs should be micro-chipped, wear a collar with contact details and “always be kept in sight”.

Both Hampshire and Dorset police urged people to report any suspicious activity, or any suspicious vehicles, they believe could be involved in dog theft by ringing 101 or online.

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