A police force scrambled to investigate a man being bundled into a car boot later discovered it was a mannequin used during water rescues.
Gloucestershire police appealed for information after a motorist said they had witnessed a “man in a T-shirt” being placed inside the rear of a hatchback on the A48 in the village of Blakeney by a man and a woman.
“Urgent enquiries have been ongoing this morning and, as the man has not yet been identified or found, detectives are now appealing to the public to try and establish what was taking place,” the force said on Wednesday.
On Friday, police issued an update revealing the man was actually a “water-rescue mannequin” made by Extreme Simulations, a company that provides simulation facilities for emergency situations.
An image was also shared of the mannequin used in a training exercise.
“We issued an urgent appeal this week after a call that a man was seen being put into the boot of a car on the A48 in Blakeney. Thankfully we soon found out that the man was in fact a realistic-looking water-rescue [mannequin] by Extreme Simulations. Here he is in training that day,” the force tweeted.
The figure’s genital area was blurred in the picture, which an employee explained was a result of it being “anatomically correct”.
Workshop manager Isaac Franklin said the mannequins do have some sex characteristics so they can be as realistic as possible for medical training.
Mr Franklin told The Telegraph how officers descended on the company’s premises in Gloucester but “instantly realised” the report was mistaken.
He told how he was “kind of surprised” it hadn’t happened previously, noting mannequins were often loaded late at night with a sheet placed to cover their modesty.
He said that he and his wife were “acclimatised to it and forget it might shock people”.
‘Thought it was real’
Mr Franklin said that two years ago in Tel Aviv, where the company was founded, he had had a mannequin in the car and came out to see the fire service breaking the windows to remove him.
“We had a situation with a water-rescue simulation where a woman thought it was real and had a full-blown panic attack,” he added.
Mr Franklin said the firm also pixelated its mannequins on the company’s Facebook page as it was “more appropriate to not have his bits on show for all to see”.
Police thanked the member of the public, whom they said alerted them “with good intent”.