A SHOPLIFTER reported to be carrying a knife through Paignton town centre turned out to be holding a coathanger.
Police cordoned off an area of the railway track while a force helicopter circled overhead after the man fled from Sports Direct.
Callers had reported seeing a man holding a knife and acting suspiciously on the tracks.
In fact the man had snatched a coat from the shop and discarded the coathanger while running away.
The incident happened on Wednesday, October 2 shortly before noon.
An area around the railway track was contained as officers hunted the man, suspecting he could pose a danger to the public.
He managed to slip away without being caught. No arrests have been made.
Police later confirmed they were looking for the man in connection with a shoplifting offence at Sports Direct in Victoria Street at about 11.25am.
A green Karrimor jacket worth £50 was stolen.
Police would like to find a man who was wearing blue jeans, a black t-shirt and a flat cap.
Anyone with information should call 101 quoting log 271 of October 2.