Dog owners in Suffolk are being warned to watch out for suspected dog thieves posing as RSPCA officers.
The animal welfare charity stressed that genuine RSPCA officers will always be wearing uniforms bearing the charity’s logo, and will always carry identification.
It comes after the charity were made aware of a white van with RSPCA signs on it stopping dog owners in the Haverhill area to ask if their pets were stolen.
RSPCA Acting Chief Inspector for Suffolk and Essex Adam Jones said: “We would like to remind and reassure the public that all of our officers wear branded uniforms and carry issued RSPCA identification."
We’re concerned that they may have been posing as RSPCA inspectors in order to snatch dogs, and that’s extremely worrying.
The charity says If an RSPCA officer is in contact with you, or visits your home and you are unsure of their credentials, then ask to see their official ID and look for the RSPCA badge on their clothing.
The incident in Suffolk follows similar recent incidents in London and Yorkshire in which people pretended to be RSPCA officers in an attempt to access dogs.
"If you have taken these steps and are concerned someone isn't who they say they are, you can always ring our national call centre on 0300 1234 999 for confirmation.
"If you believe someone is impersonating a member of our staff please report the incident to us and to your local police."
The RSPCA says people should take extra precautions by making sure pets are microchipped and wearing a collar with ID details.
They say dog owners should never leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, to ensure their dog has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when being walked off-lead, and ensure gardens are secure with locked gates.