Out of work special effects make up artist Mark Pye was yesterday busted in an elaborate sting when trying to sell garden hedgehogs as rare and valuable Australian Echidnas.
In a combined operation involving the Metropolitan Police, SAS and the RSPCA Mr Pye was covertly filmed selling the animals for £20 each at a car boot sale in Godalming, Surrey.
Nijel Thorpe of the Met who headed up the operation stated ‘Mr Pye would take hedgehogs from his garden, then using his specialist artistic skills would attach a false nose. To the untrained eye they are identical to an echidna. We only found out when one purchaser complained to trading standards after the elastic holding the nose snapped.
Mr Pye, clearly contrite, said ‘Since the advent of CGI there’s been a gradual decline in work for us special effects make up artists. In 2004 I was making prosthetic fat suits for Ben Stiller in ‘Dodgeball’. The only work I had last year was painting a wart onto the cheek of a witch at my daughter’s school play.’
DCI Thorpe added ‘The success of this operation is down to the perseverance of our officers and soldiers. We have had a number of specialist SAS surveillance teams in place since October who throughout the winter have been watching Mr Pye go about his intricate web of deceit. It was only yesterday we were told that hedgehog hibernate, so in hindsight we may have been able to send the SAS guys to Syria for six months - was I supposed to say that out loud?’