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Autistic man claims travellers stole two of his dogs

An autistic man said his ‘life’ has been ruined after travellers allegedly stole his dogs and sent him ransom pictures of them being throttled.

Colin Crofts, 39, from Warlingham in Surrey, had been out to visit a friend last Tuesday afternoon when he returned to find his lurcher Ace and saluki Joker were both gone.

Mr Crofts, who has Asperger syndrome, said he later received a call where the dog-nappers demanded £400 before they return the pets.

Ace the Lurcher and Joker the Saluki, stolen from Colin Crofts caravan in Warlingham Surrey

Colin Crofts, 39, (left) is devastated after his beloved pet dogs, Ace and Saluki (right) were stolen from his caravan in Warlingham, Surrey

He was then sent pictures of his dogs being terrorised, with one having its collar pulled tightly around its neck. 

Devastated Mr Crofts said: ‘This is killing me. The dogs are my life. I’ve had a few problems in the past with drug abuse and alcohol and the dogs help me get up in the mornings.

‘I just want them to give my dogs back and I’ve told them I will tell the police that it’s all been sorted out.

‘The police don’t really seem to be doing a lot. They didn’t seem to be interested.

‘The coppers are too scared to go on to the traveller sites. The people who steal these dogs are getting away with causing chaos.’

Mr Crofts had been to the friend’s house with his other dog, Thistle, and left Ace and Joker in their kennel outside his caravan.

When he returned later that afternoon he noticed the dogs had gone but their leads had been left behind.

Ace the lurcher and Joker the saluki

Joker the saluki

Mr Crofts said his dog (pictured) are his ‘life’ and that he believes travellers are responsible for them being taken 

Mr Crofts said: ‘I’d taken the dogs for a walk and then gone out to my friend’s house at around 2pm. When I returned at 6pm they’d gone.

‘I believe it’s [a group of] travellers who have done this. They had been watching me.

‘Joker was rescued from Irish travellers recently – he’s only 14 months old. I took him in when my friends asked if I could help around eight months ago.

‘My other dog, Ace, is six-years-old and I’ve had her since she was five weeks. I was given her for a present.

‘My first contact with them was on Thursday night when someone called me and said they’d heard I’d lost a dog – but then they started demanding money.

‘It’s that time of year where they start breeding them. They give them an injection to put them into heat then breed them.

‘Originally, they asked for £200 per dog but I haven’t got that kind of money. Kind strangers offered £100 each for them but when I called and told [the thieves] they changed their minds.

Mr Crofts said that Surrey Police told him 'what do you expect us to do?' when he reported his dogs going missing

Mr Crofts said that Surrey Police told him ‘what do you expect us to do?’ when he reported his dogs going missing

‘I could only offer half but they got back to me saying I’m not having the dogs back. To them they are just animals they can breed but to me they are my pets.

‘Luckily, I had my terrier Thistle with me at the time or they would have taken him too.’

When Mr Crofts reported the thefts to Surrey Police, he claims they asked ‘what do you expect us to do?’.

He is now living on a friend’s sofa, too scared to return to his caravan in case the alleged culprits return.

Mr Crofts said: ‘I got told by the police they ”don’t hold their breath”. They said ”We don’t even know where the entrance to this site is.”

‘How on earth can the local police not know the entrance to the travellers’ site?

‘The thieves had obviously been watching me so I’m staying at a friend’s house for now. I can’t go back to my caravan. 

Mr Croft’s mother, Teresa, is worried how her autistic son will cope.

The 61-year-old said: ‘I spoke to Colin this afternoon and he is in such a state. I spent over an hour on the phone to him.

‘He has Asperger’s and reacts slightly differently to some situations.

‘People with Asperger syndrome tend to have a specific area of expertise and his is dogs. This is why it’s troubling him so much that Ace and Joker have gone.

‘He may be nearly 40 but he’s still my little boy and I need to look out for him. I’m disabled and live in Suffolk so there’s not much I can do.

‘He does need quite a lot of support and I’m disgusted by the way the officer told him to ”man up” and said ”they’re only dogs”. They’re not just dogs to him – they’re his life.

‘Colin actually knows [the thieves’] names and had an address for them, which if the police had bothered to follow up a week ago, they would have found the dogs. Now he tells me they’re apparently in Aylesbury.

‘It worries me. He’ll never marry, he lives alone in his caravan and those dogs help him a lot.’

Surrey Police were contacted for comment.



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