POLICE have revealed that they have received a number of calls about suspected dog thieves operating in the Coleraine and Ballymoney areas.
In the past few weeks, members of the public on social networking sites have claimed that the criminals are acting as door-to-door salesmen and have been using a white van with southern Ireland registration plates to steal dogs.
On Friday, the PSNI confirmed that they had received a number of calls from worried dog owners, who claim that the thieves are attempting to steal the animals to use as bait for illegal dog-fighting.
Benvardin Kennels also posted warnings that thieves were apparently operating in the area.
In a statement released on Friday, the PSNI moved quickly to reassure the public by saying that there had not been an increase in dog thefts or attempted thefts in H District, which includes Coleraine and Ballymoney.
A PSNI spokesperson told The Coleraine Times: “Police would like to reassure the public following recent reports and social media postings concerning attempted dog thefts in areas including Coleraine, Ballymena and Ballymoney.
“These reports are often said to involve criminals posing as door to door salesmen.
“Police investigations to date suggest that there has not been an upsurge in dog thefts or attempted theft.
“People should not be worried that their animals or pets are being actively targeted.
“We have posted messages on our facebook and twitter accounts to reassure the public and counter some of the rash social media comments that have appeared about this supposed upsurge in crime.
“Police would still encourage people to immediately report any suspicious activity in their area, particularly in isolated or rural areas.
“In the case of an emergency do not hesitate to call 999. Local Crime Prevention Officers are available to provide general crime prevention advice to the public and can be contacted on 0845 600 8000.”
If you have you been affected by this type of crime, contact our Newsdesk on 703 55260