Sunday, 8 August 2010

Hackney 'Dognap': £500 or I slice his head off

A plumber’s attempt to track down his dog after it went missing from a Hackney building site led to a dramatic police operation at an East London shopping centre.

The story also suggests that people in Hackney are more likely to perform random acts of unprovoked malice than kindness.

Wanstead-based plumber Chris (name changed) lost his 9-month-old terrier Herbert while working on a building site on Kenmure Road.

Chris said: “He comes everywhere I go, he’s just perfect, what I want a dog to be, he usually never leaves my side. But someone opened the door on the building site and after 3-4 minutes I called him and there was no sign. We all stopped work for the rest of the day to look for him."

The dog had disappeared and later Chris came back with 400 posters which he distributed around Hackney Central. It wasn’t long before his phone started ringing: “I was getting these horrible phone calls from people saying they were going to chop his head off. There were a couple of people who rang to ask if we’d found him but there were at least 10 nasty calls. “

When he received a malicious text message from an identifiable number he called it back: “I spoke to this girl who said she’d had an argument with her boyfriend and that he’d sent the text, she said it was the sort of thing he’d do. It seemed like I’d really scraped the bottom of the barrel of Hackney’s social underworld.”

On July 3, three days after Herbert went missing, Chris said: “I got this call from a youth saying “I got your dog, I want £500 or I slice his head off.” Chris asked the man what colour his dog was and when the question was ignored Chris assumed that the caller didn't have his dog.
The caller changed the price to £1000, then £1500, and then £2000 before setting a rendezvous in Asda car park in Leyton Mills.

Chris said: “He sounded like a really nasty piece of work. I very much doubted he had the dog but I just didn’t think that people should get away with behaving like that.”

So he called the police and was surprised by how seriously they took the situation. Minutes later he was met by a plain-clothes policeman in an unmarked car. The officer said he was worried about Chris’s safety – that the people involved may be carrying knives – but reassured him that if he was prepared to play along with the suspected dognappers the police would never be far away from him. The policeman said that there were already 25 officers in seven vans on stand by.

When Chris told the police that he didn’t believe that the callers had his dog, he was told that it didn’t matter and that the minimum sentence for this kind of offence was 5 years.

At 2.08pm he got the call and the first thing he was told was that the ransom had gone up again to £2500. Chris said: “I told him that I thought that he’d want more cash and that I’d brought along some extra to cover it.”

“And then he said “I’m parked in front of KFC in a red Passat, wearing a yellow shirt.”" Chris could see the car and the yellow-shirted passenger from where he stood. As he made his way toward it he passed the police car and said “red passat, yellow shirt” and heard orders being issued to the waiting units.

He said: “My heart was racing, it was pretty overwhelming.”

As he approached the car a large man got out and Chris asked him if he had the dog and the reply came back in a thick Irish accent: “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. The man started to walk away but before he'd got far the police vans pulled up and surrounded him.

Chris told the police that he didn’t think they’d got the culprit. He said that he thought the people who had called him were much younger and were probably in KFC or Burger King watching.

It soon became clear that the man with the Irish accent was picking up some kids and didn’t have anything to do with the phone calls.

He said: “The guy I was talking to sounded really young… but evil, one of those kids who don’t respect themselves or anyone else. The police took it very very seriously.

Chris said he was worried about possible repercussions because the people involved had his name and telephone number.

So what happened to Herbert?

It was only later that Chris’s girlfriend was called by a man named Kenny who said: “I got your dog, I took him to the vet in Holloway.” Chris asked him what colour the dog was and got the reply: “Him grey.” I said my dog wasn’t grey, but Kenny said: “Definitely your dog.”

It was the weekend an no vets were open but a couple of days later Chris got a call from the RSPCA asking if they were missing a dog called Herbert: “straight away I knew it was him because no-one else would have known his name – it was on his chip.”

A final call came from a woman who said she and her boyfriend (Kenny) had found Herbert in a fried chicken shop in Hackney Wick. The woman said that the manager of the shop was complaining that Herbert “was really annoying people” and they’d agreed to take him away. But she said that he’d been so hyperactive that they’d taken him to the RSPCA as soon as they could.

At least Waltham Forest police took the issue seriously - which is a lot more than can be said for this family in Willesden Father's fury at dognap scam (August 7 2010). Blood and Property has yet to receive a comment from Waltham Forest police but an officer believed to be in charge of the operation was contacted by the police press office.

Could this explain why they were taking it seriously: No lead in dognappings(April 2010)


  1. 我愛那些使自己的德行成為自己的目標或命定的人................................................

  2. Great story. Mr Blood. Sorry, but I can't put this in an Asian script.