Thieves are leaving white chalks marks outside outside homes – to show which ones that have dogs worth stealing, police have warned.
The strange white lines of chalk have been appearing on brickwork, gates, and wooden fences outside houses around Suffolk – leaving people fearing they are being targeted.
It comes less than a month after four dogs and 13 puppies were stolen by ‘vile’ thieves from Fiveways Boarding Kennels and Cattery in Barton Mills, Suffolk, on July 10 – forcing the kennels to close its doors.
And on July 6, a cocker spaniel was taken from its enclosure on a farm in Hollywell Row.
Suffolk Police have urged residents to be “vigilant” as they explore the possible links between the chalk marks and the dog thefts.
But worried residents say they have become “paranoid” and are “losing sleep” after finding the white marks outside their homes.
Kelly Crane, 39, from the village of Henley in Suffolk, wrote on Facebook: “Really unsettling to discover a white chalk mark on our back fence this evening.
“Please if you have dogs, check your property for these marks and don’t let your dogs out in the garden alone at the moment. Not going to sleep tonight.”
Meanwhile Jackie Woolven, from Woodbridge, posted: “This is not a prank or wind up, this is going on and it’s very serious.
“I have been targeted twice, it has now cost me £500 for CCTV.
“They don’t only chalk, they use cable ties and they also come round and leave your gates open so when your dog runs out they steal it.
“They knock on your door to see if you want work done, that’s how they know you have dogs. Please be very aware.”
Jackie added that her back gate was left open at night – and she claims she spotted a woman waiting at 6.30am the next morning for her dog to run out the gate so she could grab it.
And Diana Fordham, from Leiston, also shared a post warning people that she had been targeted with the white chalk marks.
She wrote: “Quick heads up to all dog owners in and around Leiston – just had one of the potential dog nappers come to mine about buying something.
“Next thing he was asking about my dogs, how many we have, what breed, how much they are worth.
“Then he sat out the front of my house taking pictures and on and off the phone making calls for about 15 minutes.
“Police were called, the advice was to keep an eye on your dogs at all times when in the garden, check your fences front and back for markers – they do this so they know what house to hit.
“We found two white chalk marks on the back fence. I advise you all to check your fences.”
Diana said that the car the man sat in was a black Honda.
Similar concerned messages have been shared on Facebook from dog owners all around Suffolk, including Lavenham, Bury St Edmunds, Terrington St Clement, and Hopton cum Knettishall.
A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “We have had reports of some chalk markings being left in areas of Woodbridge and Kesgrave.
“At this stage we have nothing to indicate that this is directly linked to the theft of dogs.
“We’d ask residents to remain vigilant and if you see anything suspicious or out of the ordinary please do call police on 101.”