Police copy The Simpsons?

There might be some good crime fighting ideas in The Simpsons

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Police lure criminals with promise of Christmas hamper

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Did the police copy a tactic out of Chief Wiggum's book?

By Joe Harker

Police these days are having to work smarter to catch criminals. Sometimes offenders are able to evade the police and hide from them, meaning that arrests cannot be made. Necessity is the mother of invention, but who would have thought that a plan from The Simpsons' dim-witted Chief Wiggum would have been a real-life masterstroke?

Criminals in South Yorkshire were sent messages from fake company Herald Hampers telling them that they had won a free gift basket of Christmas goodies. The message told them to arrange a visit where they could receive their free gift basket of wine and treats, unwittingly revealing what time they would be home. Those targeted had warrants for their arrests after failing to appear at court to answer for charges.

The plan is remarkably similar to one seen in The Simpsons where the police invite people to a free boat giveaway at the police station with the intention of arresting them upon arrival. Homer gets nabbed for his unpaid parking tickets before he realises that it all sounded too good to be true.

The operation managed to catch around 12 per cent of the 400 targeted and has been described as a "great success" as it means that several criminals have been arrested who would otherwise still be evading the law. Posing as employees of Herald Hampers, police officers went to their arranged appointments and confirmed the identities of the criminals before inviting them out to the van to try a selection of wines. Then they conducted arrests, with some admitting that it was a fair way to be caught. Detective Chief Inspector Lee Berry, who ran the operation, was very pleased with the results that ingenuity can bring. He said: "The cost of sending out the cards was minimal compared to the time and money involved in sending officers to look at each address, when many would be old.

"Collectively, those warrants have been outstanding for seven and a half years, which has a big impact on the victims of crime and is a big drain on resources. We want these people to feel as uncomfortable as the victims of crime do when they wake up in the morning."

Social media means that the plan had to be conducted quickly to avoid word spreading and the police being rumbled, though they are happy to talk about it now Operation Holly has been concluded. They will probably not be able to try the same trick again but since such ideas have been proven to succeed South Yorkshire police will go back to the drawing board and think of another cunning ruse.

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