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Little blue stickers have been appearing on dogs - and their homes - across the UK, with concerned owners fearing they could be the work of pet-nappers.
Merseyside-based charity Wirral Animal Samaritans posted an image of one of the stickers on Facebook this week, alerting followers to stay aware amid a huge spike in dog thefts over the past year. A number of locals have reported seeing stickers on their furry friends and have taken to social media to warn others.
According to the government's pet theft taskforce, around 2,000 incidents of dog theft were reported to police forces across England and Wales in 2020.
One Facebook user posted her story on a Crimewatch Facebook group, along with a photo of the blue sticker.
"I never bother with these posts", she said. "But a bit anxious this morning after putting my bin out I noticed this small sticker on the bottom of my front door [sic]".
The sticker looks to be no bigger than a 5p coin. It's dark blue in colour and shaped like a circle.
She continued: "alot have agreed with my thoughts I really hope its nothing to worry about ... but I just wanted to share this to see if anyone has had anything similar??? Birkenhead area ... I have dogs and other animals".
Some commenters took the issue very seriously.
"I would be worried as this is a marking", one user said. "They now know you have dogs".
"My mum found one on her window and she doesn't have any dogs", said a second.
"It's terrible that we have to worry about these things in this day and age", said a third.
Others appeared to think the situation had been blown up out of proportion.
"Has it fell off someone's shoe?" one person joked.
"Maybe you house did well in school [sic]" said another.
"The bingo dabber bandits" a third commented.
Whether the sticker was a serious attempt at theft or not, reporting any concerns to the police is encouraged.
According to charity The Blue Cross, you should be supervising your dog as much as possible. Gardens should be secured and you should change up your walking route regularly.
If your dog has been stolen, dial 999 immediately.
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