Two men are in custody in Plymouth after being cornered by a posse of Horrabridge mums.
About 8.45 am today, the police got a call about men acting suspiciously in a garden near the village school
They were suspected of loading roofing materials, including lead, into their Transit van, and some mothers used their cars to block them until the police arrived.
The move caused some disruption and argument among other parents trying to drop off their children.
But the police arrested the two men, both apparently from Birmingham, aged 31 and 28, on suspicion of theft.
At lunchtime today, the men were still detained in Plymouth for questioning.
Tracey Lumley, a mother of four who lives in New Park, opposite the school, led the blockade.
She said: “I was on my way back from Walkhampton after dropping two of mine off at Lady Modiford’s.
“There was even more traffic chaos than usual and when I turned into New Park, I could see that one reason was a van parked on the corner.
“A neighbour of mine was taking photos and I thought somebody had reversed into somebody else. But my friend said these two guys had been looking around on Friday and had come back while she was dropping her child off at school and helped themselves to the lead, in broad daylight. Her husband is a roofing contractor.
“They were trying to dump the stuff and drive off, while she was on the phone to the police, so I used my car to block them and another mum parked hers at the side of it, so they were stuck standing on the pavement while we all told them what we thought of them. They didn’t speak much English but one of them was trying to say they had done nothing wrong in their culture. We told them in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t our culture.
“Somebody called up an old Facebook post and realised they had been seen around the area before and reported as suspicious. Somebody else did a check and found out the van didn’t appear to have any tax.
“I was a bit worried they would plough into my car but seeing my neighbour so upset was horrible and a car is only a car. They didn’t actually give us any aggro in the end. I think they were just taken aback.”
Tracey, 33, is married to HGV driver Russell Lumley and is currently studying social work at Plymouth University.