Leicester police's free iPad tweet inviting thieves to station is retweeted by thousands
A police officer's light-hearted invitation to burglars to turn themselves in and claim a free iPad became an internet hit yesterday.
The message, which was posted on Twitter by an unnamed Leicester officer on Sunday, read: "Not a scam: If you've committed a burglary in the Leicester area within the last week come to our police station and claim a free iPad."
The message was passed on – or retweeted – by more than 5,600 people, reaching a potentially huge worldwide audience.
It drew appreciative comments from across the UK and further afield.
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However, the force said yesterday it was not aware of any thieves rising to the bait.
Ivan Stafford, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, said a growing number of officers were taking to Twitter to communicate with people on their patches.
Mr Stafford said: "Police officers do an often unusual, varied and challenging job and people are genuinely interested in what we do.
"Social media is a great tool and sometimes these tweets can travel far and wide in a very short space of time.
"This was a joke and there's no suggestion any burglars have turned themselves in to claim a free iPad, but stranger things have happened."
The same message had been tweeted by officers in Solihull, in the West Midlands, a day earlier – leading officers there to, again jokingly, accuse their colleagues of theft.
They tweeted: "We need to talk to you about a tweet theft earlier today. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your..."
City centre police replied: "We can only share brilliant tweets. And Solihull police are the best at it."
Natalie Proffitt, head of new media for Leicestershire Police, said: "Our use of social media is extensive and covers a wide range of police work.
"We have more than 100 accounts which cover neighbourhood policing, the Download Festival, traffic policing, the force helicopter and we even have a 'tweeting' police dog.
"We see it as a key way to engage with a digital audience and are always looking for new technologies to use.
"We have more than 23,000 followers on our force account and more than 17,000 fans on our Facebook page, where we issue appeals for information, CCTV and good news stories."
A growing number of police officers are joining Twitter, including Leicestershire's chief constable Simon Cole, who has been posting regular updates since September 2011.
Tayside Police's deputy chief constable Gordon Scobbie – who also retweeted the message – has previously encouraged forces to embrace social networking.
Mr Scobbie, the Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman on digital engagement, said: "It is crucial that, as a police service, we adapt and embrace the opportunity to get ahead of the curve with this new technology, and ensure that our understanding is sufficient to deliver real operational impact and value for money."
Leicester police iPad offer reaction...
Here is a selection of some of the responses – in the Twitter style – to city centre police's light-hearted tweet:
@MervLukeba AAAAAAAAAHAHAHA HAAHAAAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAAAHLK
@VeronCFC23 Brilliant banter from @CityCentreLPU! Wish cops in Toronto had this much sense of humour.
@OnikasSoldier I stole my brother's headphones. Can I still get an iPad ?
@petehotchkiss Does it come with Angry Birds pre-installed?
@REVERENDPICKLES Hahaha, Tweet of the day for sure, very funny!
@TomRoss funniest tweet I've seen in ages...
@Rebecca64058176 I just wonder if anyone turned up haha
@callis1987 asked: "Will the offer still be valid if I travel up to the Leicester area and commit a burglary next week?"
To which police replied: "Maybe not, but we may have some of our booby prizes left – Pot Noodle served in our 4-star #Lock Em Inn accommodation."
Leicester police top tweets
Here is a selection of city centre police tweets from the past few weeks, including their take on the Christmas classic, Santa Claus is Coming to Town:
"Sing along... You'd better not drink... then try to drive, not even a drop, I'm telling you why, Leicester cops are coming to town!"
"Watch out for your stuff – if you want to give it away, give it to charity shops."
"A real 999 call! 'How do I put batteries in a remote control?' These people put other people's lives at risk."
"Woman called for us to arrange lie detector tests for her and her family. We're the police, not Jeremy Kyle!"
"Couple of young girls found drinking alcohol. Alcohol confiscated and all parents contacted. Not happy parents! #EndOf TheirNight #Grounded."
"Three robberies in the London Road area this week. We've increased patrols but ask you to think about your safety."
"Man just arrested by @CityCentreLPU officers for being wanted on warrant for not going to court! Lesson – Don't fail to appear! #simples."