Police speak out over 'RSPCA dog theft' rumours

Police have moved to reassure owners over social media rumours about dog thefts.

Police have moved to reassure owners over social media rumours about dog thefts. - Credit: PA

Police have moved to reassure pet owners amid rumours that thieves posing as RSPCA inspectors are stealing dogs.

There has been an increased number of dog thefts reported to Norfolk police in recent months, including a labrador stolen from its kennel in Hockering, and the theft of three red cocker spaniel puppies in the Rougham area.

Police said this had led to concerns but that there had not been any crimes recorded this past week that related to dog thefts.

Postings on social media had claimed that dogs were being stolen or that men in a van, which was allegedly to be marked with the RSPCA logo, had been acting suspiciously around people walking their dogs.

Postings on social media had claimed that dogs were being stolen.

Postings on social media had claimed that dogs were being stolen. - Credit: PA

But there have been no reports of dogs being stolen from property or while out walking with their owners over the last week.

In a post on Twitter Norwich Police said: “One person in North Walsham reported an incident on Saturday in which a man in a transit van asked questions about their dogs while out walking. 
We asked them to report any further sightings to us and we haven’t received any further reports of this happening.

“In addition the RSPCA has told us that a number of incidents circulating on social media claiming people are impersonating their inspectors do not appear to be actual cases of people trying to pass as bogus officials.”

RSPCA inspector

Police have said RSPCA inspectors will always carry ID and there are few situations where they will approach members of the public. - Credit: PA

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They added there were few situations where RSPCA inspectors will approach members of the public, unless they witness animal cruelty or see an animal in immediate danger. Inspectors will also wear RSPCA brand clothing and always carry identification.

“RSPCA officers do not have the power of entry or seizure unless accompanied by a police officer,” they added.

The charity DogLost has recently warned owners to protect their pooches after a surge in the number of lockdown-related thefts and attempted thefts

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It reported dog thefts in the UK had risen from 172 in 2019 and 465 in 2020 - an increase of 170pc.

The issue was recently raised at an online rural policing Q&A where Norfolk's chief constable Simon Bailey revealed his own dog had been stolen in 2019.

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