DOG thefts have fallen in Essex this year, despite social media frenzy surrounding the thefts of pet pooches.

Essex Police has now reassured dog owners that despite national reports, reports of dog thefts in Essex have fallen from 65 in 2019, to 60 last year.

And so far this year, the force has received five reports of stolen dogs, with all five coming from homes or gardens.

Officers have recognised the concern owners may have, but have urged the public not to "jump to conclusions."

A spokesman for Essex Police, said: "We understand there are concerns being voiced by our communities, particularly on social media, around dogs being stolen.

"We understand why these rumours will cause dog owners concerns but we ask people not to jump to conclusions as this can cause unnecessary panic.

"However it is important that if you spot any activity which you believe to be suspicious, please report it to us immediately.

"You can now report non-emergency crime and antisocial behaviour online through our Digital 101 service.

"Every day between 7am-11pm, you can report non-emergency crime or provide us with information through this service, which you can access on the homepage of our website by selecting the 'Live Chat' button at the bottom right of the page.

"The service can be accessed from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even a mobile phone, making it easier and more convenient for you to report non-emergency crime, antisocial-behaviour or share information with us.

"It's important that we know what is happening in our communities so that we can take appropriate action, so please ensure you report any unusual or suspicious behaviour. In an emergency, always dial 999.

"We also encourage dog owners to join the dog watch scheme.

"You can find out more information here:"