LOCAL people have been warned to be vigilant following a recent spate of attempted dog thefts in Tyrone.
Several incidents have occurred around Plumbridge and Castlederg in recent weeks with one person claiming that their dog was drugged by the heartless thieves.
In another incident, a suspicious car with no number plate was spotted driving on the Spout Road in the Plumbridge area.
The public has been warned to be extra vigilant with their dogs, and Councillor Steven Edwards believes the rising price of dogs during the pandemic has encouraged thieves to steal dogs.
Cllr Edwards said, “It’s hugely concerning that so many people have come forward in recent weeks claiming they’ve either had their dog stolen or there was an attempt to steal their dog.
“One person even told me that their dog was drugged by these thieves to make the theft easier for them.
“This activity is happening all across the North but there does seem to be a cross border element with many people raising concern across border areas.
“Having spoken to members of dog clubs in recent days, it’s clear that dog prices and puppy prices have shot up during the Covid-19 pandemic which may be causing this increase in thefts.
“These thieves are looking to breed these dogs and make a large profit as a result,” said Cllr Edwards.
The incidents and concerns have been reported to the police, and anyone with any information is asked to contact 101.
Cllr Edwards says it is important the PSNI apprehend these perpetrators and put a stop to this criminal activity.
He continued, “I would urge all dog owners to be extra vigilant at this time and to keep an extra eye on their dog – especially when in the garden and when out on walks.
“It is harrowing for many families when they lose their dog and for many that dog is a family member.
“For older people, their dog may be the only constant company they have in their lives.
“We’ve asked for more patrols and visibility to deter these thieves. We also want these thieves to be apprehended and the message put out clearly that this type of behaviour will not be accepted,” said Cllr Edwards.