Derbyshire Police planned a prank of arresting Santa Claus in Findern, Derbyshire, leaving onlookers confused as they saw Father Christmas being handcuffed. The force confirmed that the arrest in Findern last night was a hoax.
Mercia Police’s Safer Neighbourhood Team posted on its Facebook page that the arrest had all been a prank.
The incident was part of Festive Findern’s Christmas Fayre, which ran from 5pm until 8pm on December 22.
Santa’s sleigh was one of the main attractions as pictures with him were on offer, as well as face painting and game stalls.
The arrest by the police left social media in bits.
The spoof nicking was a collaboration between the police, Findern Parish Council, the Rotary Club and Festive Findern.
One reader asked Derbyshire Live: “Any idea what happened with the Santa they arrested in Findern tonight from the sleigh in front of all the kids?
“The police wouldn’t tell us anything.”
While some were confused about what was going on, many were quick to praise the cops for getting involved in the community.
One said: “Thank you so much, Bob, Sgt Nizzer and team – your festive spirit and support of our event was a delight.”
Santa was then “chased through the village” before being “dragged off his sleigh” and “vigorously searched”.
The search revealed his chocolate gifts, intended for “distribution on Christmas Eve”.
However, Santa then explained to officers that it was a misunderstanding and that he had been collecting donated food items for needy and vulnerable families in South Derbyshire.
Father Christmas was “released immediately”.