Police are embracing the holiday season in a somewhat different way by dressing as Santa and elves to stop alleged thieves stealing from department stores.
Officers in Riverside, in the US state of California, are taking part in an operation called “Santa’s intervention”.
On Thursday, several officers waited outside Target dressed as Santa and his elves.
“As the suspects exited the store with merchandise they just stole, Santa and his elf were waiting to take them into custody for the theft,” police said.
“As a result of this operation, three arrests were made.”
A woman was arrested for allegedly stealing a trolley full of stolen items while a local homeless man was also detained after entering a store while allegedly in possession of illegal drugs.
A second man was arrested for allegedly stealing more than A$1300 worth of Lego.
“Toward the conclusion of the operation, detectives received information about three suspicious men casing vehicles in the shopping centre parking lots,” police said.
“One of the undercover detectives spotted these three men as they were in the act of stealing an older white Honda CR-V.
“Two of the men saw the detective and ran off but were quickly apprehended by the other officers. One suspect resisted arrest but was taken into custody with the help of our undercover Santa, and the second was detained by the undercover elf.”
Video uploaded to Facebook shows one of the officers, dressed as an elf, pointing a gun as police made an arrest.
Santa is then seen leaping into action.
“Get ‘em Santa!” a man says, as the officer dressed as Old Saint Nick tackles one of the suspects.
One of the men was later released while the other was arrested for possession of illegal drugs and resisting arrest, police said.
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