Police hunting a ‘Ross Geller lookalike’ for allegedly shoplifting today confirmed they had identified their suspect – and thanked all their ‘Friends’ for helping them.
Blackpool Police are hunting the man who is wanted on suspicion of theft after allegedly stealing beer from a restaurant on September 20 this year.
Their hunt made international headlines when they released a CCTV image of the thief who bears a striking resemblance to Ross in cult US sitcom Friends.
Now the force has revealed on its Facebook page how it received a number of positive lines of enquiry and had identified the man in connection with the theft.
The force said: “Could we BE any more overwhelmed with the response to our CCTV appeal on Tuesday – the one where we wanted to identify a man in connection with a theft at a Blackpool restaurant on 20th September.
“We really appreciate your support and thank you for sharing the post with all your Friends.
“On a serious note, as a result of the international attention, we received a number of positive lines of enquiry.
“We are now satisfied we have identified the man in the picture and our enquiries are continuing.”
The force had originally posted a CCTV image of the suspect on Facebook asking for witnesses to identify the man pictured leaving a restaurant carrying what appeared to be a crate of beer.
The appeal sent the internet into a frenzy after Facebook users pointed out the suspect’s likeness to David Schwimmer’s character Ross in the well-loved show.
The story eventually reached Schwimmer in the US, who comically cleared his name by posing as his Blackpool doppelganger in a video filmed in a US supermarket shop.
He recreated the police image of the suspected thief and mimics carrying beer down an aisle and looking directly into the camera.
Schwimmer signed off the tweet with the hashtag “It wasn’t me”, and wished officers in Blackpool the best of luck with their investigation.
The CCTV image showed the man clutching what appears to be a crate of beer, as he stares down a security camera in Blackpool, Lancs.
Police appealed for anyone with brand new information about the theft, which took place at a restaurant on 20 September, to contact them.
The original post read: “Do you recognise this man? We want to speak to him in relation to a theft at a Blackpool restaurant on the 20th September.
“If you know who this is, please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting log LC-20180920-0670. Thank you for your help.”
Within minutes of the post on social media, internet users bombarded Blackpool Police’s Facebook page with jokes inspired by the 90s sitcom.
After seeing the sheer scale of the responses, the police wrote their own comment – and it was praised as ‘comedy gold’.
A police spokesman said: “Thank you to everyone for your speedy responses.
“We have investigated this matter thoroughly and have confirmed that David Schwimmer was in America on this date.
“We’re so sorry it has to be this way”.
As comments on the post descended into something of a Friends quote-fest, a number of the 50,000 users who chipped in referenced the show’s chart-topping theme song.
“I don’t think it’s been this guy’s day, his week, his month or even his year,” wrote Nick Croston.
While Olly Byrne quipped: “I’m surprised you’ve not found him… it’s like you’re always stuck in second gear.”
Others, such as Joe Richardson, riffed on some of Ross’s most well-known quotes.
“Shouldn’t he be at work…or is he on a break?”, asked Joe.
While Jay Murdoch wrote: “Apparently the police had him cornered then he performed a pivot manoeuvre and escaped.”
Craig Thompson added: “I saw him behind me in the shop around that time.. just as I was paying for MY SANDWICH.”
Scottish police also got in on the act, with bobbies in Dumfries and Galloway sharing the post and warning members of the public to “keep away” from the suspect.
“He is known to have studied karate and we believe he has mastered the art of Unagi, the state of total awareness”, they wrote.
However, some commenters reminded their fellow Friends fans that a real-life crime had been committed.
“He’s a thief and it’s serious,” wrote Grace Higham. “But these comments are hilarious.”
Schwimmer starred in Friends from 1994 until its finale in 2004.