LOCAL police say rumours of a dog stealing ring in South Gippsland are unfounded claiming it to be a social media hoax which has gone viral. In recent weeks social media sites have been flooded with users posting reported incidents where their homes had been ‘marked’ by dog thieves who leave a yellow ribbon or paint/chalk symbol. The ‘Dog Theft Tracking Australia Wide’ Facebook page has over 3000 followers and has been inundated with reports of alleged dog thefts and sightings of suspicious activity.
Last week residents in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland areas began reporting and sharing stories of strange markings on fences and gates. But local police say other than a reported incident in Leongatha, it’s a hoax which continues to gain momentum. Wonthaggi Police last week said while they will investigate any reports of dog thefts or suspicious activity, they have received limited information and reports. “The Bass Coast and South Gippsland Police Service Area are aware of a number of claims currently being circulated via social media in relation to the theft of dogs for fighting purposes,” the police spokesperson said. Police have been called to a local address in Leongatha a number of times after reports of two men purporting to be police, claiming they had attended to confiscate a dangerous dog. “Limited detail has been provided to police on each occasion and claims that attempts have been made to steal dogs in the area are unfounded. “There is no evidence to support these claims despite police responding in less than a minute on one occasion when one particular incident was reported via Triple Zero.”
Community Liaison Officer Leading Senior Constable Brett Godden has urged locals to take care when sharing information via social media.
“On July 15, we stated on Facebook that Victoria Police had heard about a hoax doing the rounds on Facebook and other media about people tagging houses with yellow ribbons so that they would return and steal a dog for the purpose of fighting,” Ld Snr Const Godden said. “We stated then and still do that this is a hoax.” Ld Snr Const Godden said there has been no evidence to indicate any dog theft activity. “We fully understand that people may think they are doing the right thing by passing this warning along, but you are just perpetuating the hoax,” he said. “Police remind the community that not everything on Facebook is 100 per cent true and people should investigate stories before blindly forwarding them on and possibly scaring friends and relatives.”