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Facebook pic of toy mortar leads to armed cops raid

A man makes his profile picture that of an action figure. In the background is a toy mortar. Someone doesn't find it funny.

The picture as it appears on Driscoll's Facebook page. Yes, that's a toy mortar.
Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When you make your Facebook profile picture that of Action Man (aka the British G.I. Joe), it can be a clue to your fascination with fantasy.

It also suggests that if there's a toy mortar in the background of the picture, that, too, might actually not be entirely real.

Please try telling that to the five carloads of police who raided Ian Driscoll's house in Tewkesbury, England, armed with guns and a search warrant.

"The Action Man looked a bit like me, so I decided to put it as my Facebook picture. I didn't even notice the mortar in the background," 43-year-old Driscoll explained to the Daily Mail.

The image offered more clues as to the mortar's unreality. There was a TV remote control by its side. It offered what some might call scale and perspective.

Sadly, perspective is not always something the police embrace with anything other than loaded arms.

"It's tiny and quite clearly a toy. I can't stop laughing. I think it's hilarious," Driscoll told the Mail.

The police did manage to see the funny side, but only after reportedly telling him that he was lucky he was at home, otherwise they would have been forced to break down his front door.

They didn't even seem to have considered that this profile picture had been up for a month.

It isn't clear which wise "friend" of Driscoll's contacted the police to tell them of his arms cache. It might have been polite of this person to at least own up to the marginal over-reaction.

A representative for the Gloucestershire police told the Mail: "We are sure that the community would rather we acted quickly on information given to us of this nature, in case it had turned out to be a weapon."

Many will be glad of the police's confidence in this matter. Perhaps a phone call to Driscoll might have obviated the necessity for a raid.

Still, it is heartening that he has stood his ground and continued to make believe that he is really Action Man.

The profile picture, with mortar in the background, is still on his Facebook page today.