Police officers tracked down a missing man after spotting a hidden message on a Christmas card.
An investigation into the disappearance of the 67-year-old man, from Crook, County Durham, had hit a dead end when the discovery was made.
Enquiries suggested he may have been heading to Northumberland when he went missing last month, but officers had found no contact or location.
Just as hopes were fading, PC Bruno Lee and PC Martin Coates, decided to recheck the man’s mail to make sure they hadn’t missed a clue.
PC Coates found a Christmas card and saw what appeared to be the faint imprint of a word and a phone number when holding it up to the light.
It appeared someone had rested on the card while writing and had left an indent on the card beneath.
After looking closer, the officers were able to make out the phone number in Alnwick.
The two officers carried out further checks to find an address, which led them to the missing man, who confirmed he was safe and well and staying with friends.
Bishop Auckland Response Inspector, David Littlefair, praised the PCs’ instincts.
He said: “When someone is reported missing it is a worrying time for family and friends and officers will do everything they can to reunite people as quickly as possible.
“Because of the officers’ thoroughness, the missing person was quickly spoken to who confirmed he was safe and well, resulting in a positive outcome and bringing the long investigation to a successful close.
“It’s the kind of thing you see in the movies but it really does show how dedicated our officers are and sometimes you just have to follow your gut instincts – well done Bruno and Martin!”
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