Police have assured residents in Darwen they will investigate all claims that pets are being stolen.

But said the latest report was a practical joke which caused a dog owner to become distressed.

Darwen Neighbourhood Policing teams said they had received calls that people in the area are attempting to steal pets.

The police posted today: “After further investigation the latest report was in fact a practical joke!

“The caller believed her property had been identified as a possible target but after viewing CCTV she was able to identify the person of concern and ascertained he had played "a joke".

“Although he found it amusing it caused a lot of stress to the dog owner and people in the community.

“The police have as yet not had any reports that dogs have been taken. Please remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity, we will of course continue to monitor reports and will keep you updated.

You can report incidents by phoning 101.