Clutching at straw

POLICE say they are unaware of reports that a Hartlepool PC scrambled the force helicopter after spotting a “raid” on a scrapyard - only to discover the suspect was actually a scarecrow.

The apparent incident, which is believed to have happened in the summer, was reported in Police magazine published by the Police Federation.

It states that officers were on the hunt for a gang responsible for a string of metal thefts when they saw a man acting “suspiciously” on a pile of scrap.

Believing he was a suspect, the report goes on to claim the officer called for back-up and aerial support.

It was only after reinforcements arrived and officers took a closer look that they discovered the suspect was actually a scarecrow!

It is then claimed the red-faced officer had to radio HQ to stand down the helicopter and confirm there was no crime in progress.

The Police magazine article read: “An officer from Hartlepool was investigating a series of thefts from scrap yards. The offenders had narrowly escaped the officer several nights previously and he was intent on finding the culprits.

“The PC was on the hunt for a gang responsible for a string of metal thefts when he saw a ‘man acting suspiciously’ on top of a pile of scrap

“This led to the officer giving a lot of passing attention to the area over the next few night shifts in an attempt to apprehend the persons responsible.

“Late one night, he was passing the area when he spotted a figure dressed in a high-visibility jacket stood on top of the tip.”

The magazine said that the officer believed the man was a “lookout” and was “clearly not supposed to be on the site”.

It added: “The officer called for back-up from the force helicopter and a traffic unit came to assist with a zoom lens to get a closer look.

“Upon this closer inspection, it was discovered that the lookout was a scarecrow wearing a high-visibility vest.”

A statement issued by Cleveland Police read: “We are unable to find details of the incident, or confirm whether it even occurred, as the information published by the magazine does not contain specifics and is from an anonymous source. Crime in Hartlepool is down by nine per cent thanks to the dedication of our officers.”