THE deputy leader of Wrexham Council has called for calm over rumours of dogs being targeted by thieves in the county borough.

A large number of posts have been shared on community groups on Facebook, claiming criminals are using cable ties and chalk to mark properties with pets.

However, Councillor David A Bithell, leader of the Wrexham Independent Group, said he had received reassurance from North Wales Police that the number of dog thefts occurring in the area is low.

Officers said the speculation has led to innocent people having their pictures taken and posted on social media after being accused of acting suspiciously.

They also said pranksters were putting cable ties or chalk marks on houses to cause distress.

Cllr Bithell said: “I am aware of a great deal of social media speculation and concern regarding dog thefts in and around our area.

“Also, and most concerning there is a great deal of negative discussion.

“I have today asked the RSPCA on what local authorities can do or what advice they can offer longer term.

“North Wales Police have also emailed today as nationally there have been a small number of thefts.

“The police today can reassure you that crimes such as these are extremely rare with no confirmed thefts having occurred across the county in a considerable time.”

Some of the concern is believed to have stemmed from reported thefts in other areas of the country.

It follows a man being arrested after more than 30 puppies, which were suspected to have been stolen, were found in a van which was stopped on the M6 in Cheltenham.

But in an e-mail to Cllr Bithell, police said there was no cause for dog owners in Wrexham to be worried.

They said: “What you will see on social media are reports shared from various sites around the uk that then pick up momentum and become viral themes.

“Many of the posts originate in south of England where a few confirmed offences have occurred.

“Those reported locally are often innocent members of the public who have been photographed going about their daily lives but that appear to others to be acting suspiciously.

“The sharing of images is not to be encouraged as it has the potential to put innocent parties at risk.

“Sadly due to the amount of momentum that this issue has gained we are now seeing practical jokes taking place with people deliberately marking walls with chalk, or placing zip ties to cause upset.”

Cllr Bithell said anyone with genuine concerns should still report any suspicious incidents to police.

He said: “Can I ask for sensible conversations to take place as this does cause considerable upset for pet owners.

“I am liaising with the RSPCA and the police and if there are any localised issues please report to 101.”