Latest Social Media Myth: Dog Thieves Who Mark Your Home

Pet theft is a serious concern, but are thieves really broadcasting their intent by drawing symbols on targeted homes? I really doubt it, and here’s why.

By: Petful (graphic); ncurado (photo)
It doesn’t make sense that thieves would announce their intentions. By: Petful (graphic); ncurado (photo)

The Internet strikes again this week with a story of shockingly organized petnapping. It’s the stuff of TV crime dramas.

The story would have you believe that networks of dognappers are surveying potential targets, maybe even parking conspicuous vans in suburban neighborhoods and making notes of canine activity. Using chalk or paint, criminals are marking houses and fences with symbols whose meanings are understood by other dognappers.

According to Carla Challis of, “It is thought the criminals mark the door so they can either go back and steal the dog later themselves, or guide others to the home.”

The fate of stolen dogs is seldom pleasant:

  • Used for breeding
  • Sold for profit
  • Used as bait for fighting dogs

Although the fate of stolen dogs is sadly believable, the story of their kidnapping is a little too farfetched for me to buy.

Can the profit for selling a stolen dog really be so great that an entire group of thieves would create an operation for this sole purpose? I doubt it.

It doesn’t make sense that burglars would mark a house, essentially broadcasting their next target and increasing their chances of getting caught and facing criminal charges for breaking and entering, trespassing and theft. Even the most foolish criminals would have to realize that the risks outweigh the benefits.

Any actual markings are probably just pranks brought on by the increased media attention.

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Myth busted.
A myth that needs busting.

Make no mistake, pet theft is real and you should always be cautious, especially when leaving your pet in the yard unattended, but dognapping is more often an opportunistic crime, not a massive underground operation.

Many stolen dogs are taken while they’re being walked, when they’re tied outside a shop or restaurant, or when they’re left alone in a yard. Stealth is the key in most attempts. So tipping off a potential target with a colorful symbol doesn’t fit the standard pet theft profile.

Rather than spending your time inspecting your doorframe for a cryptic crayon marking, take a more proactive approach to protecting your pet from thieves. “It is traumatic for any dog owner to have their dog stolen,” says Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom. “We recommend being vigilant and taking the basic precautions to help keep dogs safe.”

Sources: Express, BT

Allison Gray

View posts by Allison Gray
Allison Gray gained a wealth of knowledge about animal welfare issues and responsible pet care during her nearly 5 years of work for an animal shelter. She is a writer, photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter. Allison also has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful since spring 2017.

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