In the age of social media with more hoaxes being spread on
the internet, some of them are starting to attract police
On Tuesday, Dunedin Police posted a message on its Facebook
page letting people know a message about a spate of dog
thefts being linked to gang members involved in organised dog
fights was probably a hoax.
A simple internet search for ''Dog theft hoax'' shows the
same message has been passed along in other countries,
including Australia and the United Kingdom.
Constable Craig McDowall said police decided to respond to
the hoax message after members of the public contacted them
about the message.
''We are always open to the fact that these things might be
going on, but we did look into it and found similar messages
had appeared in the North Island and overseas,'' Const
Another message spread through social media about gang
initiations in the student area appeared two weeks ago and
caused some concern, but it was also wrong, he said.
''With social media these things can escalate quickly in a
short period and people start believing them.''
It was best to contact the police if concerned about
potential criminal activity, Const McDowall said.
Other than the two rumours in the past month,police had not
dealt directly with any other messages being shared on social
media, he said.
Both the Dunedin City Council and the SPCA said they had not
recorded any spike in the number of dogs being reported
Nor had people been calling worried about the internet hoax.