Animal rights extremists are being investigated by police for patrolling the streets in police-style uniforms and intimidating shoppers into not buying fur products.
German police moved swiftly after shocked members of the public complained of feeling intimidated when they were accosted and grilled by the fake army.
Wearing coats and hats emblazoned with the words “Fur Police”, the activists marched up and down the streets of Bielefeld accosting people wearing fur.
Most of the “suspects” who were quizzed sported fashionable fur-trimmed hoods in the freezing weather.
They were then lectured and bombarded with propaganda by the activists from Deutsches Tierschutzbüro.
Police are now compiling a dossier on the organisation to send to the public prosecutor’s office.
Two activists are being investigated for misuse of titles, professional names and badges.
They are also being investigated for unlawful assembly, for failing to register their protest with police.
A spokesman for the German fur trade association Deutscher Pelz- Groß- und Außenhandelsverband (German Fur Association of Wholesalers and Traders) said: “This ‘fur police’ is unacceptable and we are trying to fight it.
“It is a criminal act to dress up as a policeman – an unlawful assumption of public authority. And it is also a criminal act to stop consumers in the streets if it is intimidation.
“Both matters of fact are covered by our penal law. It is not common that such things happen in German streets but I must remind you of Sharia Police in 2014 in Wuppertal.
“It is a matter of fact, that this action will make many consumers feel insecure and they will give up wearing fur.”
Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, said: “At this time of increased security threats, it is totally irresponsible for animal activists to dress up as police officers. It is unsettling, dishonest and takes up valuable police time having to investigate it.”
The campaign instantly faced social media outrage with many people rushing to condemn it.
@galdregons I want no Sharia police and NO fur police.
@robwande Can someone explain these animal rights activists that it is not a good idea…
The “Fur Police” nationwide campaign is set to run until March 2017 and will target up to 70 large different cities across Germany, including Essen, Bielefeld, Hannover, Bremen and Hamburg.
They also plan to target southern Germany by the end of January.
A police spokesman said: “Since the action of the animal welfare authorities was not registered as an assembly at the Bielefeld police department, the clothing of the animal protectionists appeared uniformly and the protected term “police” was used, the police initiated criminal proceedings.
“There is a suspicion of violations of the assembly law (non-registration of the assembly and uniform prohibition) and the suspicion of misuse of titles, professional names and badges.
“The criminal proceedings, which are initially directed against two animal protectionists known by name, will be handed over to the public prosecutor’s office in Bielefeld for legal evaluation.
“Since the suspicion of the above mentioned violations is suspected, the Bielefeld police will prevent similar actions by the animal protectionists until the decision of the public prosecutor.”