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Mannequin heads peep out of a dumpster.in this photo released by the Delta, B.C., police department.HO/The Canadian Press

A routine patrol of an alley in downtown Ladner, B.C., gave police pause recently.

“Police officers don’t scare easily. But imagine you are patrolling down a dark alley and your flashlight hits upon this,” reads a caption to a photo the Delta Police tweeted.

The image shows several mannequin heads peeping out of a dumpster that’s slightly ajar. One, with scraggly dark hair, hangs from the lid, beside a metal chain.

While this incident turned out well, it comes after two recent deaths in Vancouver and Toronto of people who got trapped in clothing donation bins.

On Dec. 30, a 34-year-old man in West Vancouver died after becoming stuck inside a box, prompting the District of West Vancouver to seal donation bins and investigate safer options.

On Jan. 10 in Toronto, officers were called to a downtown donation bin when someone reported seeing a woman partially stuck inside. Fire services cut through the box to extract the woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Delta incident turned out to be scary but not serious.

The police officer who spotted the heads probably “had a second of ‘Oh my, what have I got here?’” said police spokeswoman Cris Leykauf.

The officer quickly investigated and found a number of mannequin heads in the dumpster, she said, along with even more that filled a garbage bag.

“It seems a little grizzly sounding when you say it like that, doesn’t it?” she asked with a laugh.

There are clothing stores and hair salons nearby, she noted, so police aren’t sure where the heads came from.

Leykauf said she’s not sure exactly how the veteran officer responded when he found the heads.

“I e-mailed and I asked his boss, ‘Did he scream? What happened?’ He never confessed to any of that so I have no idea,” she said.

Earlier in January, a south-Edmonton neighbourhood was taped off for several hours after police discovered what appeared to be a body.

A media inquiry about the investigation led to this response from police: “This is not a human body. It is believed to be some sort of mannequin or doll.”

Leykauf said Delta hasn’t seen any homicides in the past two years, and if these mannequin heads are the most gruesome thing they have all year then they’re doing very well.

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