With temperatures plummeting across the US, police officers were stopped in their tracks when they thought they saw an elderly trapped inside a car frozen to death – only to realise that it was just a mannequin.

Officers from Hudson Police Department broke into the snow covered car in the city of Hudson after receiving a call from an "upset" caller.

But it turned out the life-like mannequin – which had teeth, blemishes and was wearing an oxygen mask – was being used by the owner for medical training purposes, who was outraged over the police's intervention.

"It is my understanding that the owner was incredulous that we took action in this matter," police chief L Edward Moore said in a statement to local news station Wavy.

"He apparently was quite vocal and vulgar to my sergeant."

No charges were brought against the mannequin owner, but Mr Moore warned others police would be prepared to break into a vehicle, if they see a similar sight.

"Just to clear the record," he explained, "all citizens of Hudson should be put on notice that if you park your locked vehicle on the street on a sub-zero night with a life-size realistic mannequin seated in it… we will break your window."