MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Dog theft is on the rise in Midland, according to residents.
Police records show at least two incidents - both involving pit bulls - have been reported to city authorities during the past three months.
No arrests have been made.
"Two dog thefts is, in my opinion, two too many," said Midland Police Sgt. Jimmy Young.
The most recent theft occurred Friday in the 100 block of S Adams Street, he confirmed. Another theft occurred in November on Midkiff Road, near Grafa Park.
Additional cases may have gone unreported after a stolen dog escaped and returned home, or fallen into an incident category other than pet theft due to insufficient evidence.
Carol and David Evans, dog owners who have lived in the 1500 block of Douglas Avenue for more than 11 years, said an unknown suspect cut a panel out of their wrought iron gate in an attempt to steal their boxers.
"It was around 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning," said Carol. "A couple of my dogs were barking unusually crazy... [The suspect] used a welding device called a 'settling torch.'"
The portable tool, also known as an oxygen-acetylene torch, can be used to weld and cut through metal.
Photographs taken following the incident show an opening in the lower fourth of the Evans' yard gate, approximately 28" high and 15" wide.
"It was just big enough for a dog to get out," said Carol. "They didn't take any other valuables [from our yard or home]. It was an obvious attempt to get at these dogs."
Four of the Evans' boxers - beloved rescue pups they described as "part of the family" - were missing when they checked the yard.
The four dogs - all microchipped - were ultimately spotted roaming the streets and returned home.
"I still feel extremely violated and angry and upset," said Carol.
The ordeal was later categorized as "vandalism" in an incident report filed with the Midland Police Department, investigators said.
Police could not confirm if the incidents on Adams Street, Midkiff Road and Douglas Avenue are related.
No gates, fences or other property were reported damaged on Adams Street and Midkiff Road, according to authorities.
The two pit bulls reported missing from Adams and Midkiff have not been returned.
"In those cases, the dogs were running around outside the house or tied up in the [ungated] front yard," said Sgt. Young. "Pet owners can protect themselves by keeping an eye on their pets and getting them microchipped."
Anybody with information about Midland pet thefts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at (432) 694-TIPS.