A photograph allegedly appearing to show an active dognapping duo in Middleton and the surrounding areas has gone viral on social media.
The post – which was shared publicly to Facebook on Sunday which we have decided not to share – contained a photograph of two men at the popular Alkrington Woods in the Rochdale town of Middleton who were said to have allegedly followed a woman with the intention of taking her dog.
This allegation was also backed up by the original sharer of the viral post.
The sharer of the original post revealed that, whilst on a walk with their dog on Blacky/Archer Park the day prior, they were followed by the same men who were said to be filming on a mobile device, but instead claimed that they were on a video call to a family member.
The two men were said to have suspiciously followed the party constantly, which they now believe was because they were looking to take the dog.
The sharer of the original post is thus urging the public to “be vigilant and always on the lookout”.
The post has since gone viral on Facebook in less than 24 hours after sharing.
It has amassed over 800 interactions, a whopping 9K shares, and hundreds of comments by people expressing shock and concern at the nature of the sightings, as well by those making sure to warn friends and family members who are known to walk their dogs in the area, but this post appears to be just one of a number of alleged sightings of the dognapping duo across Middleton and the surrounding area in recent weeks.
Alleged sightings of the pair have also been named by members of the public at other Greater Manchester locations too.
Blacky Park, Archer Park and Heaton Park have all been named among the places of alleged sightings.
The sharer the original post has confirmed that the matter has been reported to Greater Manchester Police – with a picture and description provided – and has encouraged others who have seen similar suspicious instances occur to also do the same, as it increases the chances “they’ll get caught faster”.
Given the rise in dognapping cases in the UK in recent months, and particularly during lockdown – with the notable instances reported here in Greater Manchester and the North West region including the theft of 14 Cockapoo and Cocker Spaniel puppies from Northwich back in November of 2020, and the similar theft of a litter of Bulldog puppies from a home in Wigan last month – industry experts have been speaking on the matter and warning the public to take extra caution when walking their dogs.
Discussing the matter with Lorraine, veterinarian and animal scientist, Sean McCormak stated that those looking to welcome dogs into their family at the moment should particularly “be wary of the online ads” when it comes to identifying potential dognapping cases.
He continued: “Think about why someone would be selling an adult family pet.
“If there’s warning signs there, if you’re suspicious, if they won’t meet you and show you the dog in their home, or they’re trying to meet you somewhere to give you a dog, [then] that seems a bit suspicious”.
Sean then advised those that find themselves in that position to “walk away, do not give them money, contact the police and contact the RSPCA because people are being fooled by this, and [these stolen dogs] are people’s family members, so we need to be really careful”.
Commenting on the reported allegations, a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “On Sunday 28th February, at around 5.30pm, police received a report of two men acting suspiciously and attempting to steal dogs who were being walked by their owners at Leisure Park, Middleton.
“Officers are aware of this and dog walkers are advised to remain vigilant while enquiries are ongoing”.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting incident number 2470 of 28/02/21, or alternatively, details can be passed on anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
You can find more information about reporting a crime via the GMP website here.
Teenager stabbed to death at house party in Leeds named, as murder investigation launched
A 17-year-old who was fatally stabbed at a house party in Leeds has been named by police, as a murder investigation is launched.
The victim has been named as Trust Junior Jordan Gangata, known to his loved ones as TJ.
TJ was fatally wounded in an incident at a house in Salisbury Grove, Armley, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Four men have been arrested on suspicion of murder – an 18 year old man from Huddersfield, and three men from Bradford, one aged 18 and two aged 19. They remain in custody.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Weekes said: “Trust’s family are going through an incredibly difficult time, and we have specially trained family liaison officers supporting them.
“We are keeping them fully updated as we continue to progress the investigation into his murder, with the four men we have arrested remaining in custody.
“Trust’s family have asked that people respect their privacy as they try to come to terms with having him taken from them in such sudden and violent circumstances.
“We continue to appeal for anyone who was at the party where Trust was attacked and who has any information that could assist the investigation to come forward and tell us what they know.”
They wrote: “It is with great sadness to report that one of our Lower Sixth students, Trust ‘TJ’ Gangata, tragically lost his life in the early hours of Sunday morning. The College community is devastated by this news and we have him, his family, and his friends in our thoughts and prayers.
“Students, particularly his friends, will find this news very difficult to understand and accept. Our Achievement Tutors, Safeguarding Team, and College Counsellors are available to all who need support. The Chapel is also available for all who need a quiet space.
“Trust’s teachers described him as a “friendly, sociable, and kind student who always contributed positively in class”. Friends of Trust called him “hardworking, funny, and loyal” who was “a role model to his friends and always had a smile on his face”.”
A scene remains in place around the address in Salisbury Grove to undergo forensic examination and specialist searches.
Information can be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Featured image: West Yorkshire Police
RMT Union members ‘overwhelmingly’ vote to accept new pay offer
RMT Union has announced that its members have “overwhelmingly” voted to accept a new offer covering pay, jobs, and conditions.
In a statement revealing the outcome of the vote to accept the “improved offer” released today, the rail union said that 20,000 of its members voted by 76% to 24% in favour – which is said to mean the end of the trade dispute with Network Rail.
It comes after a series of strikes were staged over several months.
The offer voted in favour of includes an uplift on salaries of between 14.4% for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% or the highest paid, and a total uplift on basic earnings between 15.2% for the lowest paid grades to 10.3% for the highest paid grades – which represents an additional 1.1% over the duration of the deal, according to RMT.
Other “key factors” of the offer, according to RMT, includes discounted rail travel benefits for members.
The offer also includes increased backpay, and a renewing of the ‘no compulsory redundancy agreement’ until January 2025.
On top of this, RMT claims Network Rail will withdraw its previous insistence the offer was conditional on RMT accepting the company ‘modernising maintenance’ agenda – which the union will continue to “scrutinise and challenge”.
Reflecting on the outcome of the vote today, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said that when the Union first declared the dispute with Network Rail nearly a year ago, RMT was told that Network Rail workers would only get 2-3%.
“However, since then strike action and the inspiring solidarity and determination of members has secured new money,” he added.
“A new offer which has been clearly accepted by our members and that dispute is now over.”
Mr Lynch did, however, confirm that rail passengers will still face disruption from strike action scheduled for 30 March and 1 April, as they are still yet to strike a deal with the 14 train operating companies represented by the Rail Delivery Group.
“Our dispute with the train operating companies remains firmly on and our members recent highly effective strike action across the fourteen train companies has shown their determination to secure a better deal,” he explained.
“If the government now allows the train companies to make the right offer, we can then put that to our members but until then the strike action scheduled will take place.