ALL dog owners are being warned to be on their guard after a spate of thefts and incidents across Hampshire.

While it is valuable working dogs that have been specifically targeted by thieves in a number of incidents this week, pet owners and breeders are also being warned to be on their guard.

An Andover Advertiser investigation has found that thieves are targeting high value breeds while in other cases family pets are being dognapped and then returned to the owner in the hope of a reward.

Breeders have been warning each other, too, about fake buyers who arrange a visit so that they can gather information and then return later to steal the valuable animals.

Police are urging owners to follow their advice to make it more difficult for the thieves.

They are also working closely with colleagues in the Countrywatch team and will be asking gamekeepers and others to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

In the incident at Bullington on Sunday a kennel containing five dogs was forced open and a six-yearold black and white male cocker spaniel called Jarvis, valued at £1,500, stolen.

He is described as a well trained working dog with a distinctive black line in his fur above his lip and has a docked tail.

At around 3am on New Year’s Eve a second victim was woken by the sound of one of his dogs barking in Longwood, Owslebury, near Winchester. He went to investigate and found that two of his working cocker spaniels, Maisie and Tia, worth £600 each, had been stolen. Both dogs are microchipped.

Police also received reports of two more suspicious incidents.

Just before 10pm on Sunday a man was seen walking across a driveway in Beauworth, Alresford, towards 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 on Alresford Road, Ovington.

when a vehicle was seen to stop near to dog kennels and then drive away. No dogs were stolen and no damage was caused.

Investigating officer Sergeant Mark Lamper said: “Has anyone been offered a dog like Jarvis, Maisie or Tia for sale or has anyone seen a dog like either of them in their area?

“Have you seen any similar dogs advertised for sale in your local shop windows or online?

“During the festive period, more animals are purchased for pets. If you do buy a dog please ensure you know the history as you may be purchasing someone else’s pet without knowing.

“We are working closely with officers from the Countywatch team and will be visiting victims and g a m e - keepers in the affected areas to speak to t h e m a b o u t anything t h e y m a y h a v e seen or heard and to offer crime prevention advice.

“We are encouraging people to come forward with any information they have, no matter how small it may seem, it could be key to helping us find those responsible.

“I would encourage all dog owners to ensure their pets are microchipped and to make sure they have recent photographs of their dogs to help identify them if they are stolen or go missing.

“I would urge members of the community to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.”

Jane Franklin, from DogLost’s, a canine campaign group, said: “A green Subaru has been seen in these areas over the past month “And we have been given information that suggests there is a link between these incidents and others reported to us.”

These latest incidents follow two last month when two English springer spaniels were stolen from a back garden in Holbury and another dog was held for ransom for a week in Thornhill in Southampton.