Police play down Facebook warnings about dog thieves

North Northumberland Inspector Liz Hall.
North Northumberland Inspector Liz Hall.

Police have played down Facebook messages which warned residents to be wary of a gang trying to steal dogs.

Last week, various posts appeared on the social-media site, stating that a group of men were posing as fish sellers as a cover to pinch people’s pets.

Facebook users claimed that the gang was travelling around in a blue van and had been spotted in the likes of Shilbottle and Pegswood.

One message stated: ‘Warning – if you live in Alnwick or surrounding area, some men have been seen driving around in a blue van trying to steal dogs. Recently spotted in Bedlington and Shilbottle, they’re apparently pretending to be selling fish as a cover. Watch your dogs and if you see these blokes trying to grab somebody else’s pooches then raise the alarm and call the police.’

Another post, which featured a picture of a blue van, said: ‘Anyone sees this van, watch your dogs. He has been seen in Pegswood (parked outside my house) looking for dogs to take.

‘Four white men pretending to sell fish. I’ve been told he was looking through my windows looking to see if I have dogs.

‘There are loads of comments on Pegswood community site for more information.’

The Gazette contacted the police to find out more, but Neighbourhood Inspector Liz Hall said the comments had no basis.

She said: “The males involved have been investigated for selling fish at inflated prices to elderly residents in a separate area of the Force, but no offences were identified and no prosecutions pursued.

“There is no basis for the Facebook comments from a policing perspective and we have no information that would confirm this.

“I would encourage residents to continue to call about any suspicious sales techniques so that checks can be made to confirm licences are in place and allow police to link in with trading standards.”