PROBABLY FALSE: Dogs Have Been Removed by a Bogus RSPCA Van

  • Over the last week, a report that a bogus RSPCA van was "removing dogs from dog walking owners" was widely circulated on social media. Alan Winter, at Dunstable News Desk, has been on an email trail of discovery to get to the bottom of this story, and while parts of the report are true, there is no record of any dog actually being removed.

The report was typically worded, “URGENT WARNING FROM KENT POLICE
Andrew Judd, Volunteer & Neighbourhood Watch Liaison Officer
East Kent Police Division/Kent Dog Lost team
Be aware that there is a new ploy being undertaken by dog thieves. Having a white van with RSPCA stickers on and removing dogs from dog walking owners under the pretext that the dog matches the description of a stolen dog. 
NEVER. Let your dog be taken by anyone. Insist they follow you to the vets to have the dog scanned to prove ownership by the Chip. If they're not for real, they won't go with you! I have never known the RSPCA to operate in the way stated above. 
Phone the Police at the first opportunity with as much detail as possible and if at all possible take photos of the offenders and car registration. There are also reports of these thieves door knocking in residential areas.
Please follow our official neighbourhood watch group Weald Neighbourhood Watch”


Reports were circulated widely on social media as results from this search engine show.

What Happened?

I tracked down Mr Judd by email. Mr Judd told me that “Neighbourhood Watch simply passed this information on when requested.” He then mentioned another officer (Officer B) that I should contact. I did, and this officer has asked to keep a low profile as he is part of a team trying to track down dog crime.

Officer B tells me that he did not request anyone to upload any information onto Facebook or any social media. However, it was cascaded out to members of a Neighbourhood Watch via an email Mr Judd sent.  

Unknown third persons, probably well-meaning,  have picked up the email, added 'Urgent Warning From Kent Police' even though Kent Police media team did not approve or authenticate the message. 'Mr Judd' has also been added to the announcement to lend authenticity, and posted to social media.

Officer B told me that there was a report of a bogus RSPCA van in Suffolk last month in which no dogs were stolen. Last week Officer B was involved on two occasions in Kent in investigations into a bogus RSPCA van. No dogs were stolen on either occasion. 

Finally, Kent Police Media Team advised today, “This hasn’t come from us in the press office. It is warning advice that has been shared on social media through Neighbourhood Watch, following some national incidents I believe. We don’t have any incidents reported in Kent at the present time."
 
So, it just goes to show: If it's on Facebook, it doesn't mean it's true.