Arlington police are cracking down on what they say is theft of their intellectual property in the virtual world.
Realistic renderings of their police cars can be seen in the Grand Theft Auto V video game. They're not in the original version of the game, but created by third parties and added on.
"I guess you can download them into the game, and then you can do all kinds of stuff that we wouldn't really approve of," said Lt. Chris Cook, with the Arlington Police Department.
The renderings are called skins. A few screengrabs posted to Twitter this week show an Arlington police car and motorcycle that caught the department's attention.
"Last night, we were alerted by a citizen that said, 'Hey, your graphics are not only being used but being sold by this graphics company, just wanted to make you aware,'" Cook said.
Circumstances like these are why Arlington police filed for a copyright in 2010 that protects their vehicle graphics, patch, badge and other trademarks. The department tweeted the creator, asking them to cease and desist with use of the imagery.
On Twitter, user @Stalker63Gaming wrote back to the department, "We were unaware and intended on honoring [law enforcement officers]. We apologize for this and have removed the likeness already!"
Whether they know it or not, many departments have skins in the Grand Theft Auto Game. On YouTube, there are clips showing renderings of Dallas and Fort Worth police vehicles in gameplay. Neither department responded to inquiries about the usage.
It's just a game, but Arlington police say it's important to enforce their copyright in order to protect their image.
"A lot of times people will take these images and use them in nefarious means," Cook said.