After scouring CCTV, homes and mobile phone records to track down a man who had been kidnapped, Manchester detectives were deeply unimpressed when the "victim" admitted he made it up so he could stay out drinking... rather than go home to his girlfriend.
A detective involved in the case called it "the most foolish" she had ever dealt with.
The 32-year-old texted his girlfriend on Friday night to say he would be home shortly but, when temptation to stay out in Bolton got the better of him, he told her he was being held against his will over a £50 debt.
Fearing the worst, she contacted Greater Manchester Police, who sprang into action with more than a dozen officers performing all the hallmarks of a police procedural - door-to-door enquiries, scouring CCTV for any sign of him and analysis of his mobile signal to locate him.
But the Spooks/The Bill vibe went a bit flat after that.
After searching several homes, they found a man and arrested him for kidnap - who admitted it was a "ruse" to help his friend stay out drinking. The 'kidnapper' was released without any further action.
But the boyfriend was not so lucky.
Police were told where he was, nicked him and fined him for wasting police time after admitting it was a "wind up". The search had lasted more than six hours.
He may wish he was being "held" over a £50 debt - the fine was £90.
Detective Inspector Jo Clawson, said: “The man’s girlfriend was absolutely beside herself with worry and genuinely concerned that he would come to harm.
“Rightfully, based on what she knew at the time, the matter was reported to police.
“Considerable resources and time then went into finding this man, who it transpires made the entire thing up so he could stay out and party."
She continued: “This is without doubt one of the most foolish and irresponsible incidents I have been involved in.
“Significant resources were taken off the front line on a Friday night, which is without exception, one of the busiest times of the week.
“He is fortunate not to have been charged, but to put together a file of evidence and put him through the court system would incur even more cost to the taxpayer.
"We feel we have wasted enough time and resources on him already.”Suggest a correction