Pet owners warned as dog thieves use ‘secret coloured markings’ to target homes with pedigrees

German Shepherd pictured while laying down in her bed.
(Image credit: Gregory Van Gansen via Getty)

Dog thieves have reportedly developed a secret colour coding system as they target homes with pedigree breeds.

Every pet-owners worst nightmare seems to have become an even more frightening reality, as dog thieves turn to ‘secret coloured markings’ to narrow down their targets. Animal wardens have warned the public against these new tactics, with thieves now using coloured elastic bands to target particular homes. 

The thieves are reportedly tagging gateposts and wheelie bins of properties where these popular pets (opens in new tab) are thought to live. The Reading Chronicle reports that the markings have been found already on a number of homes in South Oxfordshire. 

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Whilst the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) who handle animal welfare issues in Bracknell Forest, Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire have warned residents to remain vigilant.

This comes after special UV paint has been found on properties in Leicester which are believed to have been used for a similar purpose. According to The Mirror, police found the glow-in-the-dark paint on a number of houses.

The publication reports that officers said the marking seemed to have been made by thieves as a way of identifying potential targets after a dog was stolen in nearby Hallaton. 

Portrait of female labrador retriever puppy looking at camera outdoors

Meanwhile, the PPP posted a warning for dog owners on their website, stating: ‘We have recently been made aware that a number of properties in the South Oxfordshire area have seemingly been marked.

'The properties have been marked with differing coloured elastic bands, either around the gatepost or wheelie bins. It is believed the properties have been marked due to there being pedigree dogs at the locations.

'Clearly this is of concern to all dog owners, and we ask that that you all remain vigilant and where possible to report this either online via the Thames Valley Police website (opens in new tab) or on the 101 number.

How can you protect your pet from dog thieves?

Whilst the idea of losing our beloved canine companions doesn’t bear thinking about, it’s important to safeguard them against potential theft. As part of their warning, the PPP gave some general advice to all dog-owners, suggesting they change their routine, go out walking at different times and make sure dogs are on a short lead, where appropriate. 

They explain: ‘We would further advise that if your dog stays in the house, then move its location to a harder to reach area and less visible to the outside.

Lastly, do not post anything on social media with respect to your dog, or any potential litters.

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.