DOGNAPPERS have been at work in rural Hampshire stealing valuable working pedigree animals in the hours of darkness.

Police are issuing advice to owners and have launched an appeal for witnesses following four incidents this week.

The first incident took place between 7.30pm and 10.30pm on Sunday when the offender/s entered the back garden of a property in Bullington, eight miles east of Andover.

At around 3am on New Year’s Eve the second victim was woken by the sound of one of his dogs barking at Longwood, Owslebury. When he went to investigate he found that two of his working cocker spaniels, which are valued at £600 each, had been stolen.

Police have also received reports of two more suspicious incidents in other parts of Hampshire – Beauworth, near Alresford, and at Alresford Road, Ovington.

Just before 10pm on Sunday a man was seen walking across a driveway in Beauworth, towards the kennels but when the offender heard the householder open his door he ran back to the car empty handed and drove off towards the A272.

At around 1am on New Year’s Eve police received a report of a suspicious incident at an address in Alresford Road, when a vehicle was seen to stop near to dog kennels and then drive off.

Dogs have also gone missing on walks and from gardens and returned to the owners later in suspicious circumstances.

Read the full story in today's paper.