DOG owners now fear that drones are being used by thieves to identify potential animals to steal.
The criminals had been using markings on gates to show where valuable dogs were based, but have now changed tactics, as people were getting wise to them.
A drone was spotted in Newcestown last Saturday and Sunday night, before an attempted dog theft in the area. This follows on a from an incident in Cork in July when a similar drone was spotted before other dog theft incidents.
In the Newcestown case, Aishling O’Driscoll foiled an attempted theft after two women in a Fiat Panda car parked outside her house. One of the women was seen in a field behind their property, where their two dogs are securely fenced in. Once they noticed her, they made their escape not before Aishling and her neighbours took down the car registration and took a picture of the car and alerted the gardaí.
In another incident, a Courtmacsherry family had their nine–week-old puppy stolen earlier this week, less than 24 hours after bringing him home.
Emily Piper – who lives in Ard na Gréine in Courtmacsherry – had bought the black terrier puppy called ‘Darky’ for her son Kyle (6) who she said is ‘absolutely heartbroken’ over the theft.
‘We had only got him on Sunday night and the following day we went out for about a max of three hours while he and our other dog, a Labrador called Stella, were in our high walled garden. When he got back Darky was gone but Stella was left behind,’ said Emily.
‘It’s like an epidemic now and it’s absolutely frightening what is going on with all these dog thefts. What was also worrying was the fact that someone must have been watching us.’
Meanwhile, a senior West Cork garda has asked the public to refrain from posting details of suspected thefts or markings on social media, until the gardaí have first verified them.
A new social media-based group called Doggo Hood Watch was established in recent weeks in a direct response to the huge increase in thefts of mostly young and purebred dogs, many of which have been taken from West Cork.
But while crime prevention officer Sgt James O’Donovan thanked everyone who has reported suspicious activity to the gardaí, he also sounded a note of caution.
The garda has asked people not to jump to conclusions by posting suspicious activity on social media until the local gardaí have had an opportunity to check out the complaints being made.
‘We appreciate that people are very concerned about the theft of dogs and would urge them to take precautions such as securing their animals when they are leaving the house, as well as closing gates to their property, and considering the installation of an inexpensive CCTV system,’ he suggested.