THE PSNI is urging the public to be vigilant over a recent spate of dog thefts.
Officers believe the pets are being stolen to be used as bait in the underground world of brutal and vicious dog fighting.
The police said on Monday: “There’s been a specific increase in people kidnapping dogs for use as bait in dog fighting.
“This is a cruel, heartbreaking activity.
“Please keep your dogs safe and alert us if you see anything unusal or have any information that can help us stop this.”
There have been reports of dogs being stolen in the Greater Belfast area and parts of Co Antrim.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity around homes where pet dogs are kept is asked to ring the PSNI on 0845 600 8000.