The sick new sign that your pet is next on the list to be snatched by dognappers

Dog owners have been warned about an alarming method that thieves are using to mark their pooch on a list to be “dognapped”.

A community group in South Dublin have told residents they have received reports about suspicious activity that authorities have been informed about.

Many residents have said orange markings are being left as targets on the walls of homes to let thieves know that dogs live there.

A concerned pet owner has previously warned about potential “dognappers” after finding a suspicious stick placed upright in his garden.

He wrote on Facebook : “I believe they are marking houses and later come with a van to take them.

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“Check your gardens for similar markings if you have a dog as they may be back to our estate for dogs soon.”

A warning message was sent to residents urging them to report any suspicious activity or any findings of the pieces of colourful string to Gardai.

The act of tying the ribbons to gates and fences near the homes is locally known as a marking sign for thieves to be able to identify a home they can try and break into.

The DublinSPCA have also warned there has been a rise in the number of dog thefts – especially involving medium-sized dogs.

Spokeswoman Gillian Bird said : “Recently we have seen a lot of reports for the medium-sized dogs, which is very interesting. We have seen reports for cocker spaniels and springer spaniels.”

She added: “We haven’t seen that many reports for things like chihuahuas and shih tzus but I think that’s more probably because they are always with their owners, whereas some of the medium-sized and bigger dogs are often out in back gardens or when they are out for walks they are allowed go off further and away from their owner than the smaller little than what I often sometimes call them handbag dogs would be.”

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