Berlin Police have been called “creepy” and “stalkerish” for asking social media to help them track down a woman.
The Instagram post, posted to the force’s official account, says the woman asked an officer for directions.
“Your smile has enchanted him,” it says in German. “He cannot get you out of his head… Now he is looking for you.”
But the post hasn’t quite had the desired effect. Instead, it’s prompted women to write about their own uncomfortable experiences with police.
The appeal has been posted as an Instagram story, which means that it will expire 24 hours after it was uploaded.
It reads: “Please contact me. You were at the U-Bhf Halleschen Tor [metro station] yesterday at 16:40 and asked our colleague for directions? Your smile has enchanted him. If that was you, please identify yourself in a DM [direct message].
“Our colleague can’t get you out of his head. He wore uniform. You gave him a smile as a farewell. Now he is looking for you – we’re helping.”
It was no doubt intended to be romantic – but for many people, the post was way off the mark.
“She asked for the way and was polite!” one user wrote. “Leave the poor woman alone @polizeiberlin!”
Another simply said: “Berlin Police – your friend and stalker.”
It also sparked a wave of women across Europe sharing their own experiences of police crossing professional boundaries.
Anja Melzer, a journalist in Vienna, wrote that she had once tried to report a stalker to the police. She says an officer told her she should have a “policeman as a friend” to keep stalkers away, with a “wink wink”.
Another woman described losing her ID in Italy – and having several officers tell her, “if you have no ID, you have to stay here with me forever”.
And a woman in Munich says a police officer gave her a ticket, only to then use her information to call her “several times a day, for weeks“.
A Berlin Police spokesman told BBC News that the force “saw the chance to help this little love story with the help of our Instastory”.
“Police officers are just people like you and me, with feelings and a chance for great love,” he says, adding that comparing their post to stalking “does not do stalking victims justice”.
“The post is without pictures and names, the woman is completely free to respond. There is no pressure, just an offer, and something very beautiful – the chance of great love. That’s what social media is there for.”
He added that the woman has, so far, not been in touch.