How police used Woody Harrelson to catch a beer thief

A police department has turned to using a photo of Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson to try and find a beer thief.

The New York Police Department used Harrelson’s face after a camera caught a man stealing from a shop in April, 2017, according to a report published by Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology.

Cameras couldn’t capture the man’s face because it was obscured and somewhat pixelated.

The NYPD spliced actor Woody Harrelson's photo onto this beer thief's picture to try and find him. Source: AAP

“Rather than concluding that the suspect could not be identified using face recognition, however, the detectives got creative,” the report reads.

“One detective from the Facial Identification Section (FIS), responsible for conducting face recognition searches for the NYPD, noted that the suspect looked like the actor Woody Harrelson.”

Detectives used Google to find photos of Harrelson which they “then submitted to the face recognition algorithm in place of the suspect's photo”.

It worked though and a man was eventually arrested.

The man wasn’t Harrelson.

Woody Harrelson pictured at the Venice Film Festival in 2017. Source: AAP

But the report notes there aren’t any rules for police, in the US at least, using “probe photos” or pictures of unknown people to find suspects.

Police can also use celebrity pics for doppelgangers.

Speaking of celebrity doppelgangers, police in England last year had people in hysterics searching for a beer thief who looked like actor David Schwimmer.

Schwimmer famously played Ross on the TV sitcom Friends.

A ringer for rapper Eminem was also spotted trespassing.

But police confirmed it wasn’t the “real Slim Shady” also known as Marshall Mathers.

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