PINCKNEYVILLE, IL (WCMH) – Two dog thieves in Illinois are getting their hands on expensive canines in a surprising way: posing as animal control officers.

According to the Perry County Sheriff’s Office, the two men are pretending to be animal control officers, driving around in a white truck and stealing dogs.

“They’ve been taken out of fenced areas and so forth,” Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis told KMOV. “They’re basically patrolling during the day for them, and they seem to be coming back at night or making sure people are gone and taking them at that time.”

The news has dog owners in Pickneyville on edge, but the sheriff’s office says the thieves seem to be going after purebreds.

“I remember years ago this happened,” dog owner Carmen Kohout said. “I didn’t have this guy, I had a chow, and the same thing was going around and it really scared me, but he doesn’t go out without me.”

The sheriff’s office and the humane society say that’s the best course of action.

“It’s scary, but I always tell people you cannot leave your dog unattended,” said Amber Gully, a worker at the humane society.

The sheriff’s office says the dogs that were stolen were likely sold for quick cash and are now gone for good.

“Yeah, you look at them anywhere from 800 to a couple thousand dollars,” Sheriff Bareis said.