Dog walker sparks police hunt after mistaking potato for 'human toe'

Emily Cleary
·4 min read
Pota-toe? (Caters)

A dog walker sparked a police hunt when she mistook a humble potato for a human body part poking out of the ground.

Katie Wilkinson, 26, from Winlaton, Gateshead, called police after seeing what she believed might be a toe in a muddy field, while walking her dog Phoebe.

After a two-hour police search, which included the use of sniffer dogs, officers confirmed the toe was actually a baby spud.

Wilkinson had taken Phoebe on a longer walk than usual and took a different route through two muddy fields.

The potato was pointing up out of the ground in a muddy field (Caters)
The baby potato was pointing up out of the ground in a muddy field (Caters)

She said: “When I was walking through the second field I was just watching the ground... I didn't want to slip over.

“While walking I saw something sticking out from the ground and I immediately thought it looked like a toe.

“I bent down to get a bit closer and to take a photo. I thought surely it can't be a toe, it must just be a really weird looking plant or something.”

Wilkinson said she continued on her walk then made her way home, however, she couldn’t stop thinking abut what she had seen.

“It was just going round and round in my head that it could have been a toe,” she said.

The field in which Phoebe the dog was being walked before the discovery (Caters)
The field in which Phoebe the dog was being walked before the discovery (Caters)

“It could have been severed from someone's foot or it could still be attached to a body.

“I got home and bathed Phoebe, then looked at the photograph I had taken and I was convinced it was a toe.

“I sent it to all of my friends and family and asked what they thought it was, I wanted to make sure I wasn't being daft.”

Having received replies saying the picture definitely showed a toe, Wilkinson called 101.

Within five minutes there was a police car at her house and she was blue-lighted to the field.

She said: “After I made the call and they said someone was on their way, I started crying and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was really scared.

Wilkinson mistook a potato for human toe, sparking a two hour police hunt (Caters)
Katie Wilkinson sent her picture of the potato to freinds and family before calling police to report it as a suspected human toe (Caters)

“I called my mum to let her know what was happening and she even got sent home early from work because everyone thought I had found a body.”

When she arrived at the field, Wilkinson saw there were already two police cars and about six police officers ready to investigate.

She said: “I had never been in a police car before. I was really panicking. I really hoped I hadn't found a body, but I was also really scared about wasting the police's time and facilities.

“However, when we were in the car, they had asked me that if something did come of the discovery would I want therapy. This made me really nervous as it seemed like this meant they also really thought it was a toe.

“When I arrived I had to explain and show the picture to all the police officers that were there.

A search began and Wilkinson attempted to pinpoint the area of the sighting.

“During the search, more and more people kept arriving,” she said. “More police officers, sergeants and detectives. Every time a group of new people arrived I had to show the picture and explain what had happened.

“All of the police, the sergeants and the detective thought it was a toe too.”

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After two hours of searching in the dark, sniffer dogs were brought in to help with the search.

Wilkinson said: “I just felt full of sheer panic and fear. There were two dogs and their handlers, about seven police cars, loads of police officers, two detectives and few sergeants at the scene now.

“I felt like I was in a murder documentary.

“The dogs were sent into the field and within 45 minutes they had found what I had thought was a toe.

“One of the sergeants walked over to me and said ‘'is this your toe?’' He then held out his hand which was holding a potato.

“I immediately felt so embarrassed. I couldn't believe I had wasted all their time for a potato.

“I was so apologetic. I just kept repeating that I was so sorry for wasting their time. I felt awful.”

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