Dog theft message just a hoax

In the age of social media with more hoaxes being spread on the internet, some of them are starting to attract police attention.

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 McDowall said.

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 missing.

Nor had people been calling worried about the internet hoax.

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