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Dognappers alert: Fears that pets are being stolen and owners asked to pay ransom
DOGS are being stolen from across south Essex before being sold on, or ransoms demanded from worried owners.
The website DogLost is urging owners to take care with their pets as they believe at least 12 dogs have been stolen from the Southend and Basildon areas.
The charity works to try and reunite stricken families with their beloved pets, but are finding many are disappearing without a trace.
Jayne Hayes, who works for DogLost, said: “There have been an awful lot in the SS postcode area in the past couple of weeks that aren’t turning up.
“We’ve had about a dozen, which is worrying. I would say to anyone, be very careful with your dogs in that area. Too many are going missing and not turning up at the dogs’ homes.”
Joanne Holdbrook, 46, of Glenmere, Vange, received an ominous phone call after her patterdale terrier went missing.
A man called at about 11pm saying they had seen one of her lost posters, in which she offered a reward.
The caller said he had found the dog and wanted to meet at Tesco car park in Pitsea, and she should come with the cash.
She said: “I said I’d meet him at the petrol station at about midnight because I know there’s CCTV there.
“My husband said I shouldn’t go on my own, so he hid in the car.
“A man walked up to the car, but when he saw my husband he walked off.”
She has repeatedly tried to call the man’s phone number, but there was no answer, and police told her there is nothing they can do, as no crime had been committed.
Another owner, Sue Brennan, lost her dog Tinks in Millennium Park, Barling.
She set up a Facebook group in the hope that someone might have seen the one-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier.
From the group she found out a man was seen near the skatepark at Chalkwell Park trying to sell a dog of the same description for £250.
Mum-of-three Mrs Brennan, who lives in Barling, said: “It’s affecting all of my family.
“You hear such horrendous stories abut what happens to some of these dogs.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said they had not had any reports of a series of dog thefts.
Southend Insp Matt Bennett added: “I’m not aware of any thefts of dogs reported to the police, and I check the daily crimes.”