Criminals fooled into a trap that police officers copied from The Simpsons

During its 28-year run, The Simpsons has had a number of genius moments. From predicting the Trump presidency way back in 2000, to foreshadowing the discovery of a three-eyed fish in nuclear-tainted waters, the animated TV series really does seem to have a knack for knowing what's going to happen in the future.

But what sets The Simpsons apart from other similar shows is its ability to be both smart and ridiculous at the same time. For instance, in one episode from season nine, Chief Wiggum sets up a far-fetched sting operation to entice criminals out of hiding by hosting a boat giveaway at the police station.

As comical as it may sound, though, the trap has actually been proven to work.

alt Credit: Pexels

Recently, a police force in South Yorkshire, UK, set up a scheme in order to apprehend wanted criminals who had managed to evade them for some time.

Much like Wiggum and his officers in The Simpsons, the police officers sent out an offer promising people a free Christmas hamper containing champagne, cookies, and other popular food items- so long as they were home to collect it at the time specified. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, it was.

Instead of being greeted by a basket full of seasonal treats and festive foods, the criminals were met by a team of police officers. Amazingly, in just two days, 21 people were apprehended, with all of them being wanted for charges ranging from burglary and assault to fraud and drug offenses.

Here's what was sent out to the known offenders:

south yorkshire police sting leaflet Credit: Twitter/South Yorkshire Police

And here's a clip of the original Simpsons sting:

In a public statement, temporary Detective Chief Inspector Lee Berry announced the success of the operation, and expressed how pleased he was with how smoothly it went:

"It’s encouraging that our innovative approach has yielded positive results and we will continue to explore new avenues for apprehending those wanted, which impacts upon the victims of crime.

"Sending officers to addresses where wanted people no longer reside is also a drain on valuable police resources."

And, if you're feeling sorry for the poor fools who fell for the trick, you'll be pleased to know that the criminals weren't left empty-handed.

While they might not have received a neatly-wrapped gift from a fat man in a suit, all of them were given fines, driving bans, curfews or prison recalls - which probably isn't what they wanted, but hey, that's what you get for being on the naughty list.

One of the people apprehended was also remanded in custody, which was an extra Christmas bonus for the cops.

Whether or not the police were aware of The Simpsons' sting operation is unknown, but with the show having so many fans around the globe, it's not unreasonable to imagine that one of the officers might have been influenced by that particular episode.

Either way, the operation was a huge success for the police force, and it's certainly given them another reason to be celebrating this festive season.