Harry Cook, 67, stops plant thieves by standing in front of van in Loughborough street
A pensioner stopped thieves stealing his prized floral display by standing in front of their getaway van.
Harry Cook, 67, caught two men red-handed trying to steal blooms from the driveway of his home in Loughborough.
Harry, of Forest Road, leapt into action and stood in front of the van, which the men had already started to load up with his flowers and trees.
"I could not believe what I was seeing," he said. "There was one man loading some of my pots into the back of a van, while his mate was sitting in the passenger seat as cool as you like.
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"I walked over and stood in front of the van. I said to him, 'You're not having them. You can put the blooming things back'.
"There was no way I was going to just stand back and let them steal my flowers and ruin all my hard work."
The former gardener and JCB driver won the prize for best front garden in last year's Loughborough in Bloom competition and a gold award in the same category in the East Midlands in Bloom event.
"I'd like to make it a hat-trick of awards so I wasn't going to let anyone ruin that," he said.
Harry was pottering about in his back garden at about 4pm on Sunday when he heard a van pull up at the front of his house.
"I went round to see who it was, in case it was a friend, and I saw the van," he said. "Then I saw this man putting my flowers into the van.
"I looked in the back of the van and there were already a pot of petunias and two pots containing small conifers and flowers in there.
"I made it clear they were mine and he was not leaving with them."
After being confronted by Harry, the man unloaded the van. He apologised, and said he thought the flowers belonged to the council.
Harry said his wife, Patricia, 65, was out for the day at Wimbledon – something he said was "probably lucky for the van man because my wife would have been at my side so they would have had two of us to contend with".
Pc Andy Dixon said: "The victim works very hard to create floral displays in an attempt to raise money for charity.
"We are appealing for anyone with information about the incident or the driver of the grey Vauxhall van to come forward."
The suspect is white, aged between 20 and 30 and of muscular build.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Pc Dixon on 101.