Torpoint Police said thieves are using fake RSPCA vans and attempting to take pets from their owners by claiming they match the description of a stolen animal. They warned the RSPCA would “never take a dog like that”.
Torpoint Police said on Facebook on Thursday they have been made aware of the “new ploy” by snatchers.
They said: “They have a white van with RSPCA stickers on it and attempt to remove dogs from owners stating that the dogs matches the description of a stolen dog.
“Never let your dog be taken in these circumstances, the RSPCA never take a dog like that.
“RSPCA officers will have valid ID and if in any doubt call the head office on 0300 1234 999.
“Please also inform police on 101 with as much detail as possible such as vehicle registration etc.”
Last month, the RSPCA issued a warning to pet owners after a spate of reports of people posing as officers from the charity in a bid to steal dogs.
RSPCA Chief Inspector for Dorset and Wiltshire, Lewis Taylor, said: “We would like to remind and reassure the public that all of our officers wear branded uniforms and carry issued RSPCA identification.
“If an RSPCA officer is in contact with you, or visits your home and you are unsure of their credentials, then please ask to see their official ID and look for the RSPCA badge on their clothing.
READ MORE: Puppy thief warning: Man tries to snatch dog from owner’s arms
Earlier this week, police warned organised criminals are turning to pinching dogs amid a surge in demand for puppies during lockdown.
Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said: “Dog theft can be a devastating crime for families and causes considerable distress to owners.
“Whilst it is still a very rare crime, it’s sadly something we have seen increasing recently.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, criminals have adjusted their activities and are taking advantage of the big demand for pets over the lockdown period.
“The cost of a puppy has considerably increased over the past year making this a lucrative market for organised criminals to exploit.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday pledged to “go after” pet thieves.
She told LBC Radio: “This is absolutely shocking, it’s a shocking crime that is taking place.”