Police calm Facebook frenzy over ‘dog theft’ hoax

PAINTED fences, marked kerbs and string hanging in trees over the past few weeks were all feared to be the calling cards of dognappers hitting the Southern Downs.

Social media has exploded over the past few days, with pet owners fearful their animals were being targeted by thieves for illegal dogfights or other reasons.

Reports of balaclava-clad men and blonde women trying to coax pets away from their owners have left many wondering if their pets are safe.

However, the real culprit behind the "tagging" is likely someone much less sinister.

Warwick police acting officer in charge Shane Reid said there had been no recent reports of such activity in the Rose City.

"We have not had a reported incident of that nature that I am aware of, nor are we investigating anything of that nature," he said.

"It is not an issue at this stage. We aren't getting reports that there is any organised criminal activity relating to those rumours."

Every few months social media lights up with "reports" of people having strange paint or tags on their properties.

Owners are adamant thieves have marked their house as one to return to and will steal their dog - or in some cases cats, for bait - when the owner is out.

Act Snr Sgt Reid conceded there was a cycle of dog-stealing propaganda on Facebook, but said the information was not always accurate.

"Whilst at times this issue is certainly raised and distributed through social media, it doesn't actually reflect criminal activity reported to the police," he said. "If anyone has a dog stolen or notices any suspicious activity occurring, please pick up the phone and call us or Policelink."

Phone the Warwick Police station on 46604444 or Policelink on 131 444.

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