SOUTH Wales Police have urged residents in the Vale to be vigilant to potential dog thieves.
Evidence shows that the pandemic has seen criminals taking advantage of the increased demand for pets in lockdown, with widespread reports of the increased cost of pets fuelling this.
However, the police stress that the number of reported thefts in their force area remains low.
Assistant Chief Constable Jo Maal said: “It is a concern and a potential emerging issue that we as a force are taking seriously, and we fully appreciate the devastating impact such a crime can have on victims.
“Our advice to pet owners is to remain vigilant but not alarmed.
“Many reports on social media are unfounded, and while they are often shared by well-meaning people hoping to raise awareness, it often raises fear and spreads misinformation and myth.
“We would appeal to the public to report incidents and suspicious activity to us, so that we can fully investigate and also build a picture of potential growing trends.
“In addition to responding to reports, we are taking a proactive approach to tackling this issue and allaying public concern.
“We work closely with neighbouring forces and other partners, have increased patrols and visibility in areas of concern and conducted local intelligence-led operations.
“Advice on preventing dog thefts, keeping your pets safe, and purchasing pets can be found on various animal welfare charity websites, including the Blue Cross and Dogs Trust.”
To report incidents and suspicions, please contact 101 or report online https://bit.ly/SWPReportOnline.
Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Simple steps like keeping doors locked can help to avoid potential theft.
Police advice in such situations is to:
- Call 999 if threatened;
- Keep doors locked at all times;
- Do not leave dogs unattended;
- Keep your phone fully charged.