An ingenious plan from South Yorkshire Police fooled 21 people into being arrested.
In 2017, Operation Holly involved police sending cards from a fake company to the addresses of some of their most wanted felons on the promise of receiving a free Christmas hamper.
Cards claiming to be from "Herald Hampers" offered the recipients bottles of champagne, wine, Christmas pudding and other treats.
If they fancied these generous 'free gifts' all they had to do was arrange a delivery time for the hamper to be dropped off at their home.
Except it wasn't a hamper that turned up at their home, it was the police – amazingly 21 people fell for this ruse.
In two days, criminals wanted for burglary, assault, fraud, drink-driving, dangerous driving, drug-related offences and harassment were all rounded up.
Driving bans, prison recalls, curfews and fines were all dished out, and one individual was also remanded in custody.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Lee Berry oversaw the operation and praised its effectiveness. In a statement he said:
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 highly creative technique for catching criminals has since attracted attention on social media where Sam White pointed out its striking similarity to a brief storyline in The Simpsons.
In the episode named ‘Lisa the Sceptic’ (season nine, episode eight) a small storyline is featured at the start of the episode where Chief Wiggum and the rest of the Springfield police force fool several hoodlums from the town into entering a "police raffle" believing they will receive a free motorboat.
Homer, who is wanted for unpaid parking tickets, falls for it but is left furious when he still doesn't get his boat. Doh!
Here is a clip of the scene.
It's unclear whether The Simpsons actually influenced South Yorkshire Police but if it did they deserve a big round of applause.
indy100 has contacted South Yorkshire Police to see if they are fans of the episode.
This article was originally published in 2017