Police in South Yorkshire have successfully arrested 21 people by fooling them in a plan inspired by The Simpsons.
‘Operation Holly’ involved police officers sending cards from a fake company – Herald Hampers – to addresses of some of their ‘most wanted’ on the promise of receiving a free Christmas hamper.
In order to receive this special hamper they were asked to book a delivery slot. But instead of a delivery driver, they were greeted at the door by police.
Temporary DCI Lee Berry said:
Some of those arrested were wanted in relation to serious charges, including supplying an illegal article into prison, dangerous driving, drink driving, assault and fraud.
Across two days, criminals who were wanted for the charges – including burglary, assault, fraud, drink-driving, dangerous driving, drug-related offences and harassment were all targeted by police.
According to Indy100, driving bans, prison recalls, curfews and fines were handed out, with one person remanded in custody.
Mr Berry released a statement saying:
It’s encouraging that our innovative approach has yielded positive results and we will continue to explore new avenues for apprehending those wanted, which impacts upon the victims of crime.
Sending officers to addresses where wanted people no longer reside is also a drain on valuable police resources.
This way of catching criminals is somewhat similar to an episode in The Simpsons called ‘Lisa the Sceptic’.
At the beginning of the episode, policeman Chief Wiggum and his colleagues trick criminals from Springfield into entering a ‘police raffle’ believing they could receive a free motorboat.
Homer, obviously, is wanted for unpaid parking tickets, falls for it but is left furious when he still doesn’t get his boat.
Here’s a look at the clip:
While it remains unclear as to whether the police were influenced by The Simpsons, I’d like to go ahead and believe they were.
Police in Essex have also been in the news for their methods this month after they launched a Christmas countdown involving their most wanted.
Throughout December, the force released mugshots of alleged criminals they wish to speak to daily.
But the festive appeal sparked a backlash among some people who said it is ‘distasteful’.
One user said:
Isn’t it a bit creepy to associate the hunt for criminals with an advent calendar?
Answer: Probably yes.
Sarah Mahoney added:
Whilst I understand and support the posts in social media to catch criminals, I find it so very distasteful that you are using an advent calendar to promote your posts to catch wanted criminals!
According to the Evening Standard, police chief inspector Richard Baxter said officers are ‘hoping to catch the advent suspects by Christmas Day’.
We have a number of people wanted in the west and want to highlight what offences they have committed and why they are wanted.
Well, it’s certainly something different isn’t it?