Suspected dog thief approaches terrified owner shouting at her ‘I want it’

A frightened dog owner was stalked in the dark by a motorist asking after her pet.

Charlene Gibbs was walking home with her fashionable French bulldog, Nellie near her home in Portsmouth when a man pulled over and shouted at her from his blue car, The News reports.

Swinging open his car door, Charlene said the man yelled: "What breed is the dog then?"

Charlene explained: "I ignored him at this point I was standing outside the pub, I walked slowly up Fawcett Rd and got to about the Golden Horse Chinese, literally a step away from the pub.

"I then realised he was interested in my dog so I told him to (go away).

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"He continued to ask if the dog was mine, and then (said) 'I want it'," she added.

Fearing for her and Nellie's safety, Charlene scooped up her pet and tried to lose the man who was following her in his car, before calling 101 when she felt it was safe to do so.

According to Charlene, the suspected would-be dog thief was of a "big build", had a ginger beard and was wearing a cap at the time of the unsettling encounter at around 6.30pm on January 22.

Charlene said: "It was very frightening and I won't be walking out at this time again."

With the Dogs Trust charity reporting unprecedented interest in pooch ownership during lockdown, criminal gangs have snubbed drugs for puppy smuggling to take advantage of their popularity.

Addressing the incident and dog owners' concerns, Lee Hunt, a Portsmouth City councillor alerted Hampshire’s Police and Crime Panel.

He said: "It's a worrying issue being increasingly highlighted on social media with many upset and anxious owners."

Hampshire Police said the incident in Fawcett Road has been classed as a suspicious incident.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the force said: "A man in a blue car pulled up alongside her on Fawcett Road and asked to look at her dog. He also asked what the breed was before following her along the road.

"A woman and two small children were reported to be in the car with the man at the time.

"The matter has been filed pending any further information.

"Anyone who witnesses anything suspicious in their local area is encouraged to contact police on 101."

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