Sorry boss, my shift's over!

Some stories have "Made in the Czech Republic" stamped all over them - and make you think "what a pity Franz Kafka isn't around to hear this one". The following incident really happened in the town of Mosnov, in the easternmost part of the country. Two police officers who were chasing a thief allegedly gave up the chase midway because their shift was over.

The mayor of Mosnov is still fuming about the incident. "It was a nightmare, he says. Someone had been stealing things from a construction site for ages and we organized a team of people to keep watch and catch whoever it was red handed. All of a sudden, in the middle of the night, my phone rang to say that the thief was at work -and I called the police right away thinking - we've got him. The police were there in minutes, two officers jumped out and when the thief tried to escape they chased him downtown. He was just jumping over the wall of a cemetery when the police unexpectedly gave up the chase. One of the officers said his shift was over and the other one had to drive him back to the station to get him replaced. They just got into their car and drove off. I couldn't believe it", the mayor told journalists later.

The thief was clearly heartened by this lacklustre performance because he promptly returned to the construction site to continue with the planned theft. The watchman alerted the mayor who once again called the police. The same police officer arrived -this time with a new colleague who had just started his shift. The thief ran off while the police questioned the watchman about what was missing. Eventually they said the theft was not really serious enough to pursue the thief, added that there was nothing they could do -and drove off.

The story made headlines and is now being bandied around the Czech Republic. The officers will be punished - but there no doubt at all that it will take a long time for the police to live down this incident.