A witness appeal has been launched calling on the people of Thirsk to help solve a staged heist, as part of a new television game show. Georgia Banks will be following the ‘crime’ as it unfolds

DETECTIVES have launched an appeal for information after £250,000 was stolen in a “heist” at the weekend.

But there is no need for the public to panic – as no crime has been committed.

The "theft" was staged as part of a new television show called The Heist created by Shine TV, the production company behind MasterChef and The Island with Bear Grylls.

The Sky One series will see a number of ordinary people commit a heist. Once they have taken the money they must keep it hidden from a crack team of former detectives. If they evade detection, the contestants keep the money. In the “case”, money was stolen from a white Transit van in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, by eight suspects. The TV show's detectives are now appealing for witnesses who saw the "incident" take place on Sunday.

Former detective chief superintendent with the Met Police, Sue Hill, is leading the investigation, working with former detective superintendent Ray Howard, of Thames Valley Police. In an "interview" with The Northern Echo yesterday, Det Chief Supt Hill reassured members of the public that all lines of enquiry are being pursued.

She said: “I can confirm the incident which took place on May 6 is an isolated one. We’ve been carrying out house to house enquiries and would encourage anyone with information to come forward.”

The “theft” took place at about 7am in a leafy area of Marage Road next to St Mary's Church. The suspects are believed to have fled through the graveyard, escaping with the money.

The show's detectives would like to talk to a man wearing dark trousers, seen riding his bike on Finkle Street around the time of the incident.

They would also like to talk to a jogger described as athletic and wearing a pony tail seen running in the park nearby and a woman walking her two dogs in the area.

The team say the area has a close-knit community and people will know the identities of the suspects.

Any witnesses are urged to get in touch with the show's detectives on 01845-591526 or email witness@shine.tv

Executive producer Matt Bennett came up with the idea for the heist because of his passion for detective novels. He said: “We are tapping into Britain’s love of crime drama, the show takes inspiration from the Agatha Christie novels.”