HAMPSHIRE Police are reassuring dog owners that thefts of dogs have not increased despite rumours and speculation on social media.

During the recent months, a number of social media posts have appeared online regarding dog thefts and suspicious individuals lurking at popular dog walking spots.

Now, Hampshire Police are trying to put owners minds at ease.

Inspector Korine Bishop from Hampshire Constabulary's rural policing team has said that she understands the concern but wants to reassure owners that there has not been an increase in thefts.

In 2020, there were 26 reports of either theft or attempted theft and 22 dogs are recorded as being recovered or having returned.

So far this year, there have been 10 theft related incidents, this is five thefts and five attempted thefts.

Six dogs have been recovered or returned.

Inspector Bishop said: "We want people not to be worries and we want people to make sure posts to be factually correct."

Inspector Bishop said that she was not here to "police social media" but explained that they were "not seeing the level of increase".

She explained that some posts being shared to local groups are often from different parts of the country.

"We're not saying it's not happening," she said. "If we see any reports of crime, we will take it seriously, we need people to be telling us about it you need call it."

Inspector Bishop said that owners need to make sure their dogs are microchipped and that when walking, you should keep your dog in sight.

If you do see any suspicious activity, you should report it to 101.