Coltrane used to catch thief, 16

Police in New Zealand are hoping that posters featuring a photo of Robbie Coltrane will help them catch a teenage burglar.

Officers responsible for producing the unusual wanted poster made it clear the British actor is not a suspect in any crimes. But they said the serial thief is a lookalike of the 58-year-old Cracker and Harry Potter actor – albeit a 16-year-old version.

New Zealand law bans the publication of pictures of juvenile criminals so police in Christchurch came up with the novel solution. Below the heading "Wanted" is the picture of Coltrane, underneath which are the words "Active burglar in this neighbourhood".

The text below explains that the photo is of Coltrane and continues: "Robbie Coltrane is not the burglar but imagine him aged 16 with lank greasy hair and you have the picture... He lives locally, travels by bicycle and burgles houses in your street."

Residents reportedly welcomed the leaflets and praised the ingenuity of the police. Coltrane was unavailable for comment.