When two workers from a game shop in the town of Montargis, south of Paris, dressed up as gun-wielding thugs on Tuesday, they thought it would be a fun publicity stunt to promote the long-awaited release of the new Grand Theft Auto game or GTA 5 as it is referred to.
Unfortunately for them, however, the stunt was lost on a concerned passer-by, who alerted the police believing a major robbery was about to take place, La République du Centre reported on Wednesday.
Within minutes of the call, around fifteen armed policemen from the anti-crime brigade surrounded the shop, some waving submachine guns, ready to do whatever was needed to prevent the anticipated armed robbery.
However, thankfully it became clear in a matter of minutes that it was all a harmless misunderstanding and luckily before any shots were fired.
An embarrassing conversation no doubt ensued, in which the owner of the Micromania video game store had to explain to the officers that their mobster-style garb – including replica guns and bandanas – was in fact just a fancy dress costume to publicize GTA 5.
Needless to say, the police were not amused, with one officer telling La République, that it was lucky no one was hurt.
“It could have ended very badly," he said.
Released on Tuesday in France, Grand Theft Auto 5 has been dubbed the most eagerly-anticipated release this year by the French press.
Originally created by programmers David Jones and Mike Dailly, the series – which allows players to take on the role of murderers and car thieves in an open-world environment – is one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time.
But it is unlikely the officers who were called out in Montargis would have been thinking about the release of GTA 5. What would more likely have been on their minds is a recent string of real armed robberies that have become the focus of debate in France.
Just last week a jeweler in Nice, southern France, was charged with murder after he allegedly shot an alleged armed robber. The shooting prompted a rally of support in favour of the businessman and plunged France into a row about the use of force in the defense of property.
And that is just one of the many heists to hit the French Riviera.
In July, The Local reported the record theft of €103 million ($137 m) worth of jewellery from an establishment in the southern city of Cannes.
And in May, daring thieves robbed €1 million ($1.33 m) worth of jewellery that had been due to be loaned to the world’s biggest film stars at the Cannes Film Festival.
More recently, in Paris, thieves ram-raided an upscale Paris jewellery store making off with €2 million ($2.7 m) worth of jewellery.