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25 November 2014, 06:00
A mum from Biggleswade has been telling Heart she is too scared to take her dogs out, after numerous people on social media claim theirs have been stolen.
Bedfordshire police are investigating four out of eight thefts reported to them last month. This includes a litter of new born puppies from a locked barn in Sandy and a dog tied up outside Sainsbury's in Bedford. They have told Heart none have been reported stolen this month.
Despite this, many people are taking to social media to issue warnings about thefts throughout the county.
Heart spoke to Laura, a mum from Biggleswade. She told us: "I haven't taken my dogs out for a couple of weeks. I prefer to put them in the car and drive them somewhere and walk them. I don't just put them on their leads and walk out of my door as you've got that fear that someone might follow you.
"I've always been cautious because you just never know who's watching. I will take them out but I just prefer to take them away from my neighborhood as I feel safer that way."
Beds Police released this statement to Heart:
A thorough investigation has been carried out, however no dog thefts have been reported since October 31 and, of the eight thefts reported in October, in four cases there was no evidence of theft or the dogs were returned by members of the public.
There is a lot of speculation on social media about dogs being stolen which is causing concern amongst dog owners but those apparent thefts reported to us have proved to be unsubstantiated.
We have identified very few actual crimes with many incidents turning out to be dogs disappearing from unsecured gardens overnight or have been later found and returned by members of the public.
Our advice to dog owners is that should not leave pets unattended in a garden or exercise area which is not completely secure and ensure there are no gaps in fences or unlocked gates which could be left open. They should ensure their pets are micro-chipped so, if stolen or lost, they are easy to identify if found.
However if anyone believes their dog has been stolen, not lost, they should report it to us at once by calling 101 with as much detail as possible.
Not reporting incidents seriously hampers our ability to respond and investigate. Without a formal report the police have no legal powers or grounds to act on any information, and any time delay potentially hinders any investigation.