Kariba - Detectives chasing a gang using fake US dollars in cash-strapped northern Zimbabwe found an unusual ally in an incredibly slow-moving elephant, reports say.
The official Herald newspaper says that four men were trying to get out of the tourist town of Kariba as fast as possible after a shop owner told police the gang had paid for goods using a fake $100 note.
But as they hit the road leading towards the capital Harare, their Mercedes Benz got held up - by an elephant.
While the rest of his herd moved slowly off the road to allow cars to pass, one unusually ponderous elephant stayed right where he was, allowing detectives to catch up with the car.
The men, named by the police as Jonas Chituku, Cosmas Chizema, Allan Besu and Tonderai Machonese, have since been sentenced to 12 months in jail, according to the privately-owned Newsday.
Reports indicated that the men bought low-priced fish at two outlets using a fake $100 bill, thus managing to extract genuine dollars in change.
The central bank in Zimbabwe is desperately trying to stem shortages of US dollars, ordering all government entities to accept rand payments by the end of the month, the Herald reported on Wednesday.
Banks have also been ordered to slash high charges for the use of plastic money in a bid to ease the demand for hard cash.
The run on cash worsened in early May when reserve bank governor John Mangudya announced that "bond notes" - a local version of the US dollar - were to be introduced.
Despite panic from Zimbabweans terrified of a repeat of the hyper-inflationary banknote printing of the pre-2009 crisis, President Robert Mugabe last week reiterated that the bond notes would definitely be used.
Banks are now limiting withdrawals, and bank queues are common.
A fake US dollar-printing syndicate was busted in Gokwe in central Zimbabwe in September last year.