Youths try to grab puppy after online sale goes wrong

Police are appealing for witnesses

Police are appealing for witnesses

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A group of youths tried to steal a puppy after asking the owner to meet them in a street in Hemel Hempstead.

The owner advertised the animal for sale online and was asked to meet the buyer at an address in Hunters Oak, Hemel Hempstead, on Thursday, January 7.

On arrival, the seller became suspicious when it became clear that the buyer – a young lad in the company of other youths – did not live in the road.

When the seller refused to hand over the puppy, the offender tried to grab the dog from the car, resulting in an altercation.

The seller managed to leave with the puppy.

This is the latest in a line of robberies and thefts in the Dacorum area since September last year.

Herts Police are now warning people to be on their guard when buying and selling items on sites such as Gumtree and Facebook.

Since September, four robberies and eight thefts have occurred where people have secured sales on their items, arranged to meet the buyer to receive payment and hand over the goods.

These items include animals, electrical items, baby goods and furniture.

Upon meeting the buyer, the item has been taken from the seller and no payment handed over. The buyer has then left with the item and, in some cases, the seller has been threatened if they attempt to follow or contact the police.

Sergeant Karen Mellow, of the East Hemel Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “In all of these cases the sellers have been asked to meet the buyers in Three Cherry Trees Lane or nearby estates, in Hemel Hempstead.

“The items have then been taken from them and no payment given.

“However we believe this could be a widespread problem, not just confined to Dacorum or Hertfordshire, and we are advising sellers to be extremely cautious when making arrangements to hand over items when there has been no advance payment.

“Try and arrange collection from your home address or a genuine address rather than the name of a road in which to meet.

“If you are unsure of the address you have been given, do some research before you arrive. Use Google Earth to check that the location is not isolated or unsuitable looking.

“If you don’t like the location, you could suggest meeting in a more public place, where there is CCTV, such as a shopper’s car park or near to a local police station or bank.

“If when you arrive, the address looks suspicious, do not continue with the transaction.

“My team have made numerous attempts to trace these items, however many of the sellers have not recorded any information, such as serial numbers, to enable us to identify them as the items we are looking for.

“If you are selling a high-value item, make sure you make a note of all the necessary information required to identify it as yours, before you sell it on.”

Anyone with any information about these offences is asked to contact Sergeant Karen Mellor on 101.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will never need to go to court.