Animal rescue charities warn criminals are posing as staff to steal animals - what to look out for

By Iain Leggat
Thursday, 4th February 2021, 3:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th February 2021, 3:40 pm
Animal rescue charities warn that criminals are posing as staff to steal animals (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Animal rescue charities warn that criminals are posing as staff to steal animals (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Animal rescue experts have issued a warning to pet owners after reports of fake inspectors trying to remove animals from properties.

The warning comes after the Scottish SCPA was alerted to reports on social media of people impersonating the charity’s inspectors in Perth and Kinross and Renfrewshire.

A warning was also issued in Dorset last week after an incident involving two men posing as RSPCA officers who attempted to steal a dog.

Phone the charity for information

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn advised that anyone who suspects an inspector to be fake should ask the person to wait outside and phone the charity for confirmation.

“We are very concerned for the welfare of the animals who have been taken by people posing as the Scottish SPCA,” he said.

Mr Flynn said that they believe the person or people at fault to be driving a white van with a Scottish SPCA sticker on it.

“Our thoughts are with the owners as this must be incredibly distressing for them,” he added.

“First and foremost we would urge anyone who has experienced this to get directly in touch with us. We will then notify Police Scotland who can investigate this fraudulent behaviour.”

How to tell if its really an inspector

Mr Flynn explains that SPCA inspectors will always be in uniform and will be able to provide identification badges with a photo and authorisation. Inspectors will also be able to provide you with vehicle registration.

The Scottish SPCA vans are predominantly black with branding on the side.

Anyone concerned in Scotland can phone the SPCA confidential helpline on 03000 999 999.

In England, RSPCA inspectors all wear branded uniforms and carry issued RSPCA identification.

RSPCA Chief Inspector for Dorset and Wiltshire, Lewis Taylor, said: "If an RSPCA officer is in contact with you, or visits your home and you are unsure of their credentials, then please ask to see their official ID and look for the RSPCA badge on their clothing.

"If you have taken these steps and are concerned someone isn't who they say they are, you can always ring our national call centre on 0300 1234 999 for confirmation.”