STICKY post notes and colour codes left outside homes are helping dog nappers target pets.
The dog thieves are copying the trusted tactic of burglars to “case” properties for valuable pets before the rest of the gang can snatch an animal from unwary owners.
Sneak thieves denote homes with a small dog by leaving a pink cross outside the property while a yellow sign tells gang members that there is a medium size dog ready to be stolen. Properties with a large dog are singled out with a red mark.
Details of how dog thieves are becoming more sophisticated emerged from a leaflet distributed by Nailsea Neighourhood Watch on the outskirts of Bristol.
It says: “Dog thieves are believed to be leaving messages on gates, doors and pavements and police have now urged owners to be vigilant after a number of animals were stolen from properties daubed with unusual markings.
“Such a yellow cross has been seen in Greenfield Crescent recently. If such markings appear on your property please inform the police using the 101 number.”
Police say no dog thefts have been reported in the area, but urge anyone who found the marks to wash them off immediately.
The Kennel Club says one of the best ways to fight dog thieves is by making sure pets are microchipped!
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, added: “It is traumatic for any dog owner to have their dog stolen. We recommend being vigilant and taking the basic precautions to help keep dogs safe.
“Dog owners should make sure that their dogs are microchipped and that their details are registered with a microchip database such as Petlog.
“They can also take preventative measures including ensuring their homes and properties are properly secured, not leaving their dog tied up outside a shop or other public place, keeping their dog under proper control and making sure they can see their dog when out and about on walks, as well as ensuring their dog is properly trained and will return to them when called.
“If dog owners notice any suspicious activities, they should report this to the police.”