Sunday, 16 December 2018

Catapult gang target villages

PET owners have claimed that dog theft is rife in the area.

PET owners have claimed that dog theft is rife in the area.

Several Standard readers have come forward to tell how they have just managed to foil attampted thefts of their dogs.

The victims were persuaded to speak out after hearing about the callous catapult attack on a golden cocker spaniel which was captured on CCTV at the Elvendon Priory Estate, near Goring, last Tuesday.

Estate manager Chris Noys believes the intruders were attempting to steal one of his dogs. He added that he knew several people who had been victims of similar crimes, including a man in Henley who has had 14 dogs stolen from him. He believes the offenders intend to steal the pets to be used for breeding or dog fighting.

“Something seriously needs to be done because so many of my friends have had their dogs pinched and never got them back,” he said.

“Dogs are like your kids. I’m lucky that I caught them. It’s just disgusting that they keep getting away with it.

“It happens all the time — a dog goes missing and is never found. I think sometimes they use them as fighting dogs.”

Mr Noys, a married father-of-three, said he was worried that members of the gang would come back to attempt another theft.

In a separate incident, a 66-year-old woman was chased by a man across the field adjacent to Benson Road and Cottesmore Lane near Ewelme in a suspected “dognapping” attempt in August.

She reported that two men got out of a small post office-style white van at the bottom of the field and one of them climbed over a gate and started running towards her. The woman ran away with her Labrador immediately.

The woman believed she had been watched while walking the same route two days previously. She had seen a Transit van parked in an area which usually has no vehicles on her previous outing and also noticed another dark-coloured car in the same place on the day of the incident.

She said: “I thought nothing of it at first but then as I was walking I saw a smaller white van speeding down a country lane before coming to a sudden halt. My own idea was that the dark car was the look-out and I felt like it had been following me for a while.”

Aspen Weatherburn, who owns Naughty Mutt Nice dog essentials and grooming store in Henley, said a number of customers were worried about dog theft.

She said: “There’s a lot of concern around the area. I’ve heard of dogs being stolen for breeding purposes. Over the last two years it’s become a big issue and last year there was a big spate of Labrador bitches being stolen.”

Anyone with information should contact Thames Valley police on the non-emergency number 101.


The intruder fled when he was disturbed by estate manager Chris Noys and sped away in a van with four other men.

Mr Noys, who owns four working cocker spaniels and one Labrador, called the attack “absolutely disgusting”.

The 41-year-old said he was alerted to the attack when the dogs were barking and “going absolutely ballistic”.

He had been working about 100 yards away and believes the intruder fired the rock at his dog to stun it to enable the theft to run smoothly.

“I could hear the dogs going mad and just as I was coming through the gate he was catapulting a rock at the dog,” he said. “I thought he was trying to cut the locks off the kennel.

“I shouted, ‘What are you doing?’ and he ran away. I ran down the footpath to the end of the road.”

Mr Noys said there was a black van with ladders on the roof and on the passenger side parked by the front gate.

He said: “I think it had four blokes in it. I could hear him shouting ‘Open the doors’ as I was chasing him down the road. They opened the back doors and dragged him in as it was driving off.”

Mr Noys took the five-year-old golden cocker spaniel to a vet in Cholsey, where she was checked over.He said: “The vet said she is fine. She probably had a bit of bruising but you can’t see it because of the fur. She was a bit quiet the first night.”

The use of catapults in all three incidents has led police to investigate the possibility they are linked. Anyone with information is asked to call Thames Valley police non-emergency number 101.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: “This incident is currently under investigation by the police who would like to speak to the man captured in the CCTV footage.”

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