Rescue workers removed a car from the Water of Leith in Edinburgh which had an axe wedged against the accelerator.
The overturned vehicle was discovered on Monday morning, sparking immediate concerns that someone had been seriously injured.
But after emergency workers reached the vehicle they discovered the car was empty – except for a large green axe found wedged between the accelerator and the front seat,
It appeared the axe had been rigged to cause the driverless car to career off the bank, near Connaught Place, and flip onto its roof yesterday morning.
Firefighters waded into the waterway to assist with the recovery and were seen removing the axe from the front footwell of the vehicle.
The driver was nowhere to be seen when the police arrived just after 8.30am after a resident raised the alarm. And officers are now working to establish exactly who was behind the bizarre crash, which residents warned could have seriously injured anyone using the often busy public path.
The fire service was initially stood down after they confirmed that no-one was in the car, but they returned to the scene in the afternoon to assist the recovery workers by securing cables through the damaged car.
Resident Lynne McCoach, said: “I was out picking up my grandson this morning and when I came back there were police everywhere. I thought somebody had been murdered or something. I never heard a thing and I am a light sleeper.”
The 52-year-old said: “I was told it came down into the river early in the morning. If it had been later then someone could have been killed as lots of people walk along that path.”
Police were not able confirm whether or not the car had been stolen.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said yesterday: “No one was found in the vehicle, which is being removed from the water by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“Enquiries are underway to establish the full circumstances surrounding this incident are ongoing.”
A police cordon was initially erected but it was taken down during the day.