Police in New Zealand hunting a serial burglar have issued a wanted poster bearing a photograph of the actor Robbie Coltrane.
Officers said Coltrane was not a suspect in the crimes, which have been committed by a juvenile who happens to look like the Cracker star. But because New Zealand law bans pictures of juvenile criminals being published, they decided to use Coltrane's image instead.
Beneath the picture of Coltrane, who plays criminal psychologist Eddie Fitzgerald in the television series [and] has appeared in Harry Potter movie series, is the alert: "Active burglar in this neighbourhood."
In smaller type the circular reassures readers: "Robbie Coltrane is not the burglar, but imagine him aged 16 with lank, greasy hair and you have the picture."
The burglar lives locally and travels by bicycle to commit his crimes, it adds.
"He will break windows to gain entry and ransack property, targeting electronic items, cash and jewellery."
The leaflet goes on to explain why Coltrane's image is used: "Because of the Children and Young Persons Act 1989, police cannot show you a picture of the 16-year-old burglar operating in your neighbourhood."
Police said that, given the legal restrictions on what they could publish and the offender's known resemblance to a younger Coltrane, frustrated officers came up with the plan.
Sergeant Phil Dean said: "It's a provocative thing to get people to read our crime prevention information."
He said of the lookalike burglar: "Our interest is in shutting him down, preventing him from committing any further crime."
Copies of the leaflet have been circulated to the letterboxes of homes in central Christchurch, the biggest city in South Island and residents in the area have been largely impressed by the ingenuity of the local police.
"I think the leaflet is very, very clever," one middle-aged man said. "It got around the law and alerted us to what is going on in our neighbourhood."
Another said: "I am wondering what Robbie Coltrane would look like as a 16-year-old. I'm also wondering how he would get through the window of my house."
Pat Creasey of the local Neighbourhood Support group, commented: "I think Mr Coltrane would think it was a bit of a hoot. I'm sure he would be fully supportive of it."
But an elderly woman said she did not know whether the leaflets were a joke.
Coltrane is believed to be in Los Angeles, but a response is being sought from his spokeswoman in London.
I tried to find a bigger image of the ad but that's all I could find :(