Police have unveiled an unlikely weapon in their war on thieves by assigning a supermarket its own beat officer made of cardboard.
The life-size cut-out guarding the entrance and aisles of Asda in Leigh has been so effective that shoplifting been slashed by 75 per cent.
Unwitting customers have even tried to have a chat with their new local policeman before realising it is a fake.
The cardboard cop, nicknamed PC Boardman and based on a real Greater Manchester Police officer, was placed in the shop last October after police were called out several times a day to deal with prolific thieves.
Real officers still visit the store and the force claims it has freed up their time to deal with crime elsewhere.
The force recently announced it is axing 290 frontline jobs as it tries to save £135m by 2015.
The cardboard figure has been hailed as a success - despite shoppers making jokey references about 'Blunkett's plastic police' following criticism of Britain's police community support officers.more & pics