Five dogs have been stolen from homes and gardens in Essex so far this year.

In response to growing concerns on social media over dog thefts in the county, Essex Police has moved to quell “unnecessary panic” over dog thefts, which the force says are not on the rise.

In 2020 there were 60 reported dog thefts in Essex, down from 65 the year before.

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

“We want to reassure you that even though recent national reports have suggested that dog theft are on the rise, reports across Essex have actually fallen.”

Police felt compelled to address the issue after a Facebook post alleging three men had attempted to steal a dog in Ongar went viral.

The spokesperson added: “At around 1pm, on Wednesday February 17, a dog walker reported that three men were seen to be acting suspiciously in a van on Toot Hill Road, Ongar. The concerned dog walker immediately left the area. No attempt to take the dog was reported.

“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 accessible via

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