When Victoria Cristofis bought her five-year-old daughter a doll she had no idea it would bring the police to her door.
But that is just what happened when the lifelike doll was mistaken for a real baby.
A worried passer-by rang the police after seeing the doll in the footwell of a car.
Officers swooped on the scene, smashed the window of the Vauxhall Zafira, and saved the ‘baby’ – only to realise their mistake.
“I couldn’t believe it when the police turned up holding the doll and told me what had happened,” said Anastasi Cristofis, Victoria’s partner.
“The officer handed the doll over and told me not to leave it in the car again.”
Victoria added: “I can see why they did it – it could have been a real baby in danger.”
“And if it was real, everyone would be thanking them for it.”
The craze for ‘Reborn’ dolls has exploded over the last few years.
Their life-like features are painstakingly created by artists who make the dolls look like real babies.
No detail is spared, even down to eyelashes, fingernails and birthmarks.
Victoria, 25, of Primrose Way, said: “My daughter Chanel saw the doll for sale in the local Post Office.”
“She pestered and pestered me until I bought it for her birthday – it cost £100.”
Chanel has carried the doll – named Sam – everywhere with her and lots of people have said how real she looks. Anastasi, 37, who runs Ideal Plaice fish and chip shop in Newcastle Avenue, had taken the kids to school on Monday morning when Chanel left the doll in the car.
After running a few errands he parked the car behind the shop and thought nothing more.
“I can understand people thinking it’s a real baby, but surely common sense would kick in after a few moments,” said Anastasi.
“The police have offered to pay for the damage but this has caused me so much inconvenience.”
“I can’t have the kids in the car because of the broken window and I’ve got to get the repairs done myself first – while I’m running a business.”
Officers had apparently tried to alert the couple, but neither Anastasi, Victoria or the chippy staff heard any knocking.
Sergeant Robert Holmes said: “The call was made in good faith by a passing member of the public. In this case a young life was potentially at risk.”
“Police, therefore, had no other option but to enter the vehicle.”
He said the force had since offered to pay for the damage and a valet.
He added: “This is a perfect example of why drivers need to think about what they leave on view in their car, both in terms of other people’s perception of the objects and in a bid to deter opportunist thieves.”