Anxiety is growing among dog-owners after reports of suspicious vehicles in the area which residents fear may be linked to attempted dog thefts.

A number of concerns have been raised in areas such as Drongan regarding a white transit van which has been spotted near dog-walkers, causing many to feel scared and uneasy for their pets.

Alleged attempts to steal dogs have been flagged up by residents on social media, as have sightings of vehicles which some worry may be linked to any potential incidents after being spotted numerous times in what they deem to be suspicious circumstances.

One woman, whose children experienced an uneasy encounter on Watson Terrace in Drongan, told the Chronicle: “It was my two daughters that were out a walk with our dog in a quiet street. It was a white transit van appeared up next to them slowing down and looking at both girls and dog.

“My daughter then went through streets to get away from the van to get back home safely.

“I didn’t inform the police, the reason being my daughter didn’t have any evidence to show the police therefore they couldn’t have done anything.

“There was another incident in the village with them trying to steal a guy’s dog as well.”

Inspector Julie McLeish at Cumnock Police Station said: “There have been a a number of reports received about vehicles that local residents consider may be suspicious but there have been no reports of any dogs having been stolen or attempts made to do so in East Ayrshire.

“Community vigilance is always key to tackling crime and if anyone is seen acting suspiciously this can be reported to Police Scotland by dialling 101.”

Statistics show that reports of dog thefts have soared amid the pandemic. In 2019, there were 170 dog thefts reported. From the start of 2020 until August 2021, there were more than 320 cases, according to UK-wide charity DogLost.