IT was supposed to be a simple appeal for people to be on the lookout for thieves operating in their area.

But police in East Lothian were left red-faced after a Twitter gaffe appeared to encourage residents to take the law into their own hands.

Officers have their own account on the social networking site and regularly post updates on investigations.

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But they raised an eyebrow after posting the message asking residents in the villages of Longniddry and Gullane to be on the lookout for criminals who have been scouring gardens in the area searching for something to steal. On May 9, officers posted: "Longniddry residents please continue to be vigilant regarding suspicious people in the area. Keep the information coming."

But this Thursday, the EastLothianPolice Twitter account revealed: "Enquiries are ongoing to trace those responsible. Occupants asked to remain vigilante for any suspicious persons/vehicles in the area."

Andy Marshall, from Musselburgh, East Lothian, joked: "Well done Police Scotland for changing their policy regarding apprehending crooks. "