A sneaky city criminal stuck an extendable pole through a letterbox in the hope that the car keys were in easy reach.
But the bungling suspect, who was spotted using his novel break-in aid in the Greenbank area, got away empty-handed.
Police admit that a similar trick has been effective in the past – and elsewhere in Scotland thieves have used a fishing rod to swipe keys.
Officers now hope the incident will be a warning to other householders, who have been urged to keep their keys away from their house doors or hallways to avoid leaving a “gift” to criminals.
The attempted theft in Greenbank on Thursday comes as Operation Quarterlight, a police drive to tackle car crime, continues across the city.
It also happened weeks after officers in Edinburgh reported a “spike” in attempted housebreakings in the nearby Grange area.
Southside Newington councillor Cameron Rose, a former city police officer, warned that the break-in attempt would not be an isolated case.
He said: “This is just another technique that’s being used. It’s disappointing that the threat to homeowners and car owners is still in play.
“This is not just a one-off thing – people use any techniques. I would imagine that police will be looking through their records to see if this is linked. My concern is that there’s an ongoing problem with break-ins and the theft of car keys and we need to keep the pressure on the police to put resources into protecting people.”
The warning also followed reports from North Lanarkshire police of a string of thefts by thieves hellbent on stealing vehicles using fishing rods to obtain the keys through letter boxes.
Inspector Graeme Nisbet said: “We are appealing to the public following an incident in the Greenbank area. The incident occurred when someone was seen to have inserted a pole through a letterbox and was attempting to reach keys located nearby.
“While this theft was unsuccessful, this method has been successful in the past and it does highlight how it can be used.
“We are asking the public to be aware of these types of incidents and to think carefully about where they leave their house, car and other keys.
“Anyone who has been victim to this technique, or have witnessed it being used at another address, should contact Police Scotland on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Operation Quarterlight, which is being run across Scotland, was launched in the Capital last month.
Although there is a particular focus on areas such as north Edinburgh – where around a third of all Capital car crime is carried out – the dedicated drive is city-wide.
Officers have been cracking down on repeat offenders by using forensic evidence and DNA from recovered stolen property to snare them.
Across Scotland, an average of 70 vehicles are stolen every week, while more than 230 are broken into or have items stolen from them.
Recent car thefts in the Lothians have also included “frosting” incidents, where complacent car owners left them to defrost with their engines running.