Devon

'Escaped crocodile' was inflatable toy, police discover

Toy crocodile Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police/PA Wire
Image caption Snare poles, nets and riot shields were deployed to trap the fearsome beast

Police officers called out to a report of a suspected escaped crocodile in Plymouth discovered the "animal" was an inflatable toy.

A woman called for help after she saw the 3ft (1m) imitation reptile in her garden at Cundy Close at 12:20 BST.

She asked two neighbours for assistance but called emergency services after they agreed it was too dangerous to approach the creature unarmed.

Police snapped into gear arriving with snare poles, nets and riot shields.

Devon and Cornwall Police also alerted a team of wildlife experts from Dartmoor Zoo to help.

The officers threw water over the "crocodile" from a safe distance and gingerly approached when it did not move. It was only then, on closer inspection, they realised it was harmless.

Despite warnings to never smile at a crocodile, they were left grinning as they removed the toy from the garden and placed it in police custody.

While the police response was scaled back, Dartmoor Zoo team was stood down.

'Absolutely mortified'

"I was making my lunch in the kitchen and looked out into the back garden," said the home owner, who did not wish to be named.

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police/PA Wire
Image caption Police said officers attended and "bravely investigated"

"It was pouring with rain and I saw what I thought was a crocodile in the garden. I went to my neighbour's house to ask if they would come and have a look at it.

"They did think it was a baby crocodile and suggested calling the RSPCA or the police. We decided to call the police as I have a three-year-old and was worried.

"A policeman and a policewoman arrived and at that point we were all a bit suspicious because it hadn't moved.

"One of the police officers bravely went out to have a look. They threw water on it and it didn't move. I'm absolutely mortified."

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that officers attended the incident following the woman's call.

"We received a call from a concerned member of the public reporting that an escaped crocodile was in their garden, approximately 3ft in length," the force spokesman said.

"Police officers attended and bravely investigated. The beast turned out to be an inflatable toy crocodile. Police have apprehended the crocodile."

The spokesman said it was not known how the toy had come to be in the woman's garden.

Dartmoor Zoo said experts were regularly called out to deal with escaped pets including lizards and snakes.

"The team were on the road with all the equipment needed," said the zoo spokesman.

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