Police Arrest 19 Suspects Using A ‘Free Beer’ Trap

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Mike Mergen / Bloomberg News

To catch a rabbit, try a carrot. Mice? Cheese. For man, it turns out beer works best. And the promise of a free case of brew led to substantially less freedom for 19 elusive British suspects.

An undercover operation led by the Derbyshire Constabulary offered a sudsy special to suspected criminals who had slipped through officers’ hands. The police department, under the guise of a marketing company, sent fake letters to dozens of suspects explaining that they’d won a free case of beer. (Really, how could such an offer be passed up?)

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Now for the inevitable catch: The suspects had to call a number – wired straight to the police station, of course – to arrange for delivery. But the only delivery was a pair of handcuffs straight to the wrists of 19 suspected criminals who fell for the police department’s scheme.

Indeed, the lure of “free beer” is one of the most irresistible offers known to man.  Perhaps these criminals should learn of a more meaningful proverb. It begins: “If it’s too good to be true…”

And naturally, the Derbyshire police are pleased with their success. “It has been very cost-effective as it can take a lot of time and money to track people down,” said Chief Inspector Graham McLaughlin. We bet this little scheme left plenty of beer money in the police department’s account.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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