Appeal for witnesses to suspicious van stopping to talk to dog owners in Stoke-on-Trent
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Officers are appealing for witnesses to come forward after they received reports of men in Stoke-on-Trent in a van acting suspiciously by asking people about their pets.
But officers insist these are a small number of incidents and dog owners do not need to be unduly worried.
At about 1.25pm yesterday (Thursday 4 February) we were informed of three males driving around acting in this suspicious manner on Reginald Mitchell Way and adjoining streets in Tunstall.
Police attended the area to conduct a search but they had moved on.
Then at 1.55pm somebody called from Bluestone Avenue in Burslem claiming they had been followed by two men in a van who had asked them multiple questions about their dog. They wanted to know its breed and if it was a show dog or a working dog at all.
The van from the Bluestone Avenue incident is described as a grey panel van. Two other people also reported seeing the van in the area.
Then at about 2.15pm a medium-sized, grey Mercedes van was reported as driving around Hayes Street in Bradeley and stopping to ask dog walkers about their pets.
Both men were described as white and witnesses reported that they could hear a dog barking from the back of the van.
Sergeant Chris McCarthy of the Stoke-on-Trent North Neighbourhood Team said: “If anybody sees a van matching the description stopping to talk to dog owners in their area then please get in contact with us to let us know.
“But these are a small number of cases across the city and dog owners and those who walk dogs for others should not be concerned or worried about taking their pets out for exercise near to where they live.
“If anybody walking a dog is stopped and asked about their pet, please ignore those asking and keep on walking to a safe, public place where you can contact the police to let us know.”
If anyone saw a van matching the description in the areas at these times stopping to talk to people, or may have dashcam footage from the area at these times, message Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter quoting incident number 315, 350 and 361 of 4 February, or alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.