updated 9/24/2007 4:21:16 AM ET 2007-09-24T08:21:16

An undercover policeman was mistaken for a thief and detained by a market crowd when he tried to arrest two pornographic video peddlers in northern Malaysia, police said Monday.

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Stall operators and shoppers cornered the plainclothes officer, who was attempting to confiscate bootleg VCDs and DVDs, including pornographic titles, after somebody shouted "robber," said local police chief Wan Abdullah Tuanku Said.

The two peddlers escaped, and four other people ran off with all the disks during the commotion while the crowd was busy holding the policeman they believed was a thief, said Wan Abdullah.

The incident happened on Sunday in Butterworth, Penang state.

The hapless policeman was held by the 200-strong crowd for about an hour until other police arrived and rescued him.

"Basically it's a misunderstanding," Wan Abdullah said. "He had a difficult time to convince them (that he was not a robber)."

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