It was a police chase with a difference... sparked after Sheffield residents got in a flap when they found an emu outside their homes.
Bobbies had to find the owner of the bird before it had chance to cause chaos on the roads as commuters set off for work and parents took their children to school.
They managed to get the emu contained in a garden, and contacted local farms and animal attractions in a bid to trace its owner.
They then tried local smallholdings – and eventually located the surprised owner, a Beighton couple who had only recently taken on the emu for a friend who was no longer able to care for it.
Owner Dawn Critchlow, aged 46, from Woodhouse, revealed the emu’s name is Eddie and said: “He’d only been with us a day when he took off! He didn’t get very far.
“I’m looking after him for a friend who is not very well.
“We found him in someone’s garden eating their carrots.”
Dawn said 18-month-old Eddie’s original owner also kept geese, chickens... and a skunk.
“Eddie is back with us now – and he’s locked up,” she promised.
Inspector Jason Booth, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “You couldn’t make it up – who would have thought we would have been dealing with a mystery emu when we turned up for work?
“We started ringing local farms and people with smallholdings in the area and eventually found the owner.
“They had only recently taken possession of the bird from a friend who could no longer look after it. It was quite early in the morning when it was reported to us so I don’t think its owners had realised it was missing, but when we tracked them down they came with a horsebox and took it back.
“It certainly demonstrates the variety of police work and we are just pleased there was a happy ending.
“The emu was kept safe, it didn’t get loose on to the roads, and it has been reunited with its owner.”
Mum-of-four Tilly Newton, aged 44, of Woodhouse Lane, said she looked outside to see the emu in her neighbour’s garden. “I looked out and saw the emu in my neighbour’s garden, and him filming it,” she said.
“It was really bizarre to say the least.
“The police were there and were waiting for the RSPCA to arrive but nobody knew who the emu belonged to at the time.
“I was shocked at one point when I came out to take a picture myself, turned round and it was right there peeking into my house!
“It’s not the kind of thing you see every day in Beighton.”