AN animal charity has warned residents after reports of people posing as fake RSPCA inspectors following a spate of dog thefts across the borough.

Staff at RSPCA have been made aware of a number of incidents in different areas of the borough where people have been targeted in their own homes or while out walking their dogs.

In some cases, police have been made aware of the circumstances.

A spokesperson for RSPCA said: “We want to ensure that the public, their animals and our own staff are safe, and that our officers can continue to carry out their vital work without being compromised by bogus officials.

“Thankfully, there have been only a handful of incidents that have been officially reported.

“However, we’re aware that many alleged incidents circulating on social media may not have been actual cases of people trying to pass as bogus officials and, in some cases, our own officers have been stopped in their work vehicles and asked to prove they are genuine staff members.

“We’re also extremely concerned to hear that some fraud callers are mirroring our emergency hotline number 0300 1234 999 to make outgoing calls claiming to be calling from the RSPCA.

“While this number should be dialled by members of the public trying to report animal cruelty, outgoing calls made by our control centre will never display as this number.

“If you receive a call from this number we would urge you not to divulge any personal information, to hang up and to report this to the police.”