A group of art thieves in Italy pulled off an apparently successful heist earlier this week - but unwittingly made off with a fake painting due to a police sting.
The robbery happened at the church of Santa Maria Maddalena at Castelnovo Magra on Wednesday morning.
Thieves broke into the display case with a hammer and made off with a work by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Younger.
The painting in question - The Crucifixion - was painted in the 17th century and is worth an estimated €3 million.
Local mayor Daniele Montebello initially told the ANSA news agency: "It is a work of inestimable value, a hard blow for our community."
However, it soon emerged that Montebello and other authorities knew there was more to the story.
Police had heard a robbery was being planned, and had replaced the original painting with a copy.
They'd also placed a number of cameras in order to catch the thieves in the act.
The original work, meanwhile, was placed safely in storage.
In follow-up comments, Mr Montebello confirmed he'd been in on the ruse but had been unable to reveal details for 'investigative reasons'.
He thanked locals who had determined the painting was a copy but didn't disclose the secret.
Work is now underway to identify those behind the theft of the fake painting.
The Crucifixion was originally donated to the church in Castelnovo Magra by a wealthy family around a century ago.
It was hidden during World War 2 in order to prevent it being stolen by German troops.
Thieves successfully made off with the painting in 1981, but it was recovered several months later by police.