Police called to Scottish IKEA after thousands sign up for hide and seek

IKEA stores are so big some people find it’s easy to get lost.  At the weekend, thousands decided to put the theory to the test.

Police were called to the Glasgow branch of the Swedish furniture giant on Saturday after thousands of people threatened to turn up for a mass game of hide and seek.

Plans were announced on Facebook to turn the store at the Braehead shopping complex into an impromptu playground.

The trend for using Ikea’s giant warehouses for games began in Europe a few years ago - and has seen people hiding in fridges, under beds and in the firm’s big blue shopping bags.

At some point on Saturday, staff at Braehead became aware of a Facebook thread suggesting some 3,000 youths were about to descend on the store.

As well as drafting in extra security, Ikea contacted Police Scotland, who dispatched five officers.

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Throughout the afternoon, groups of youths who looked like they were only there for the game were turned away from the shop.

Word also spread on social media that the hide and seek game had been shut down - meaning many others stayed away.

Police remained at the store until it closed at 8pm.

The social media post suggested the game to start at 3pm, before plans were halted.

One Facebook user posted on the thread: ‘To the person who said they phoned the store, this event is not organised by Ikea and they now won’t let people in.’

Another, Lewis Phillips, believed to have gone inside the store commented: ‘People are stopping everyone who “looks like they are here for a game of hide and seek”.’

Others asked when it was starting and where everyone was meeting.

The trend for using Ikea for hide and seek started in Belgium in 2014 and spread rapidly around Europe, with Ikea bosses initially allowing the events.

In Holland an astonishing 32,000 Facebook users signed up for a game in Eindhoven, as well as 19,000 in Amsterdam and 12,000 in Utrecht.

However in 2015, IKEA was forced to impose a ban because the events were getting out of control.

Citing health and safety a spokesman explained: ‘We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.’

Rob Cooper, IKEA Glasgow Store Manager said: “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always our highest priority. We were aware of an unofficial Hide and Seek Facebook event being organised to take place at our store today and have been working with the local police for support.

“While we appreciate playing games in one of our stores may be appealing to some, we do not allow this kind of activity to take place to ensure we are offering a safe environment and relaxed shopping experience for our customers.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said five officers attended the store after being made aware of the Facebook invitation to take part in the game.

She said there were “no issues” for them to deal with, as IKEA were using their own security personnel.

Officer remained in the store until 8pm.