Police in Staffordshire are keen to pour water on reports that a number of horses have been stolen in the area.

Following last week’s round of texts and emails regarding suspicious sightings of men photographing horses, a message telling people that 14 horses have been stolen is being circulated.

The latest message says nine horses have been stolen overnight from Cannock, Staffordshire and five have been taken from Lichfield. It says the thieves are favouring coloured horses and ponies, Irish horses and mares with foals.

“This is not the case — no reports on stolen horses have been received,” said Staffordshire police spokesman Emma Stanley. “And while we can’t obviously comment if horses have been stolen and not reported, we would expect that someone missing that number of horses would contact the police.”

The spokesman said that police have received a number of calls from worried horse owners who have seen suspicious vehicles — and that stables in the area are aware.

“We’re getting calls from members of the public wanting to know what truth there is in all this, and we don’t know at present whether it is a hoax or not,” said Ms Stanley.

“But we have increased patrols in the areas that vehicles have been seen and people are being more vigilant.”

If you see anything suspicious, police forces across the county have urged people to contact police direct — rather than approach their local horsewatch.

This morning, H&H had a report of “man with a foreign accent in a black car” taking photographs of a bay warmblood mare in Cornwall.