A new Dog Watch scheme has been set up by Wiltshire Police to help reassure owners around the safety of their pets.
Over the past few months there has been a rising perception and concern that more dog thefts and attempted dog thefts are taking place across the country. This has primarily been driven by social media comments and reports.
As a result, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, supported by Forces across the country, carried out a national survey on dog thefts in March this year (see headline stats in notes to editors).
Here in Swindon and Wiltshire, so far in 2021, we haven’t received any reports of dogs being physically stolen. However, we have received reports of a handful of attempted dog thefts which we are investigating.
The Dog Watch scheme will be driven through our Community Messaging site.
Wiltshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Debs Smith said: "As a dog owner myself, I appreciate the concern and worry owners have around dog thefts.
"Despite there being no reported cases of thefts here in Wiltshire so far this year I can understand why the perception is worse than the real picture.
"We are currently investigating reports of a handful of attempted dog thefts as well as being made aware, via social media, of some suspicious activity by some individuals around dogs.
"We do take this type of crime seriously and want to be proactive in helping dog owners protect their much loved pets - and so I welcome the setting up of Dog Watch.
"This scheme has two major benefits: it helps with the sharing of information amongst a dog loving community and also helps us, the police, build up an intelligence picture of potential issues in a particular area.
"Please note though, you should still report any attempted thefts via 101 or our website.
"While we don’t want people to panic or worry unnecessarily, we would continue to remind everyone to be vigilant when out walking their dogs and to ensure their animals are locked inside or kept in safe and secure kennels overnight."
To sign up to Dog Watch:
Go to www.wiltsmessaging.co.uk - once you have signed up to Community Messaging – which alerts you to lots of things happening in your community - you can select Dog Watch to received Dog Watch information.