Gangs of organised criminals are thought to be behind a recent spate of dog thefts and rural crime in the Thames Valley and Hampshire areas.
Several cocker spaniel thefts from kennels were reported in various rural locations over the New Year period. Fifteen different cases were brought to Thames Valley Police in December alone, while Chief Inspector Simon Dodds of Hampshire Police has been investigating three cocker spaniel thefts worth thousands of pounds.
Mr Dodds said: “There appears to be a group of organised individuals out there specifically targeting working dogs. We’ve had some really useful information come in to us from members of the public and we would urge them to continue to do so.
“We would ask people to be extra vigilant and also use common sense if you are buying a dog. Ensure the dog is micro-chipped, visit them in their home environment and check its history very carefully, otherwise you might be buying stolen property unwittingly.”
Organisations such as the Countryside Alliance are warning the public to be careful and be aware. The police believe that these thefts are the work of organised gangs due to the levels of determination, planning and equipment being used by the thieves, and it is cocker spaniels that appear to be top of the criminals’ most wanted list. Owners of working dogs are being advised to improve their security measures by securely locking kennels and installing an alarm system.