A dedicated ‘dog watch’ has been set up in Wiltshire following reports of attempted dog thefts.
Wiltshire Police says the initiative will help reassure dog owners around the safety of their pets.
It comes amid “a rising perception and concern” that more dog thefts and attempted dog thefts are taking place across the country.
Although no dogs have been physically stolen in Wiltshire in 2021, the force confirmed it is investigating reports of attempted dog thefts.
Wiltshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Debs Smith explained: "As a dog owner myself, I appreciate the concern and worry owners have around dog thefts.
"Despite there being no reported cases of thefts here in Wiltshire so far this year I can understand why the perception is worse than the real picture.
We are currently investigating reports of a handful of attempted dog thefts as well as being made aware, via social media, of some suspicious activity by some individuals around dogs. We do take this type of crime seriously and want to be proactive in helping dog owners protect their much loved pets - and so I welcome the setting up of Dog Watch.
The new scheme will allow owners to express any concerns they may have, as well as report incidents.
"This scheme has two major benefits: it helps with the sharing of information amongst a dog loving community and also helps us, the police, build up an intelligence picture of potential issues in a particular area,” she said.
"Please note though, you should still report any attempted thefts via 101 or our website.
"While we don’t want people to panic or worry unnecessarily, we would continue to remind everyone to be vigilant when out walking their dogs and to ensure their animals are locked inside or kept in safe and secure kennels overnight."