A dog lead. Picture: Pixabay.

A concerned South Wootton woman is calling for more action in tackling dog thefts.

Casey MacKenzie said she no longer felt safe walking her dog alone after  reading reports on social media that dogs have been stolen from the hands of their owners.

Norfolk Police confirmed a report of “suspicious activity” had been received on Tuesday at Reffley.

“A man walking his two dogs, black and white in colour, reported overhearing a woman on the phone mentioning the colours of his dogs and seeing two men jump into bushes. No attempt was made to approach the man or take the dogs,” a police spokesman said.

Miss MacKenzie is worried older residents may not be aware of dog thefts as they may not have access to social media.

 “I have taken it upon myself to create a poster which I plan on taking around my walking route for those people who are not aware of what is happening,” she said.

“Being a dog owner myself, I cannot begin to imagine the loss and grief I would feel if anything did happen to my dog. I am now at a point where I now cannot enjoy a walk on my own with her due to being so scared about being attacked for her to be stolen.

“I know I am not alone with this feeling and as a community, I feel we need to do something to make people aware of this and how we can help.”

Miss MacKenzie wrote to North West Norfolk MP James Wild about her concerns and in response on Wednesday, he said he would like to see the Sentencing Council guidelines specifically mention pet theft.

He said he had contacted the police and the interim district commander confirmed there hadn’t been any reports of dogs being stolen from their owners while out walking within the King’s Lynn district during the last 12 months.

“He also pledged to look to increase a visible police presence to respond to any incidents of this type reported to Norfolk Constabulary,” Mr Wild added.

A police spokesman said they knew people were concerned about dog thefts.   

“We take this crime very seriously and would never want to play down how awful it feels for the victims.

“Although social media is full of stories of dog thefts, in Norfolk in the whole of 2020 there were 30 crimes reported in which dogs had been stolen. In total 52 dogs were stolen and we managed to reunite 16 with their owners. 

“As far as we’re aware, none of these cases involved anybody being robbed or assaulted,” the spokesman said.

“If you’re approached by someone who makes you feel concerned about you or your dog’s safety, tell us on 101.”