The incident took place in the early hours of the morning in the village of Bassoues in Gers when a group of young rugby players were drinking at the bar of one of the village’s two restaurants when neighbours alerted them to a group of four individuals trying to break into cars just outside.
The rugby players sprang into action and immediately gave chase to the four criminals.
With the rugby players hot on their heels, the thieves tried to flee the village, but word had spread and other villagers came to the aid of the pursuers. In total more than 10 villagers went after the criminals, “some of them must have thought it was good training for rugby” one witness told French radio RTL.
“The fact that they were running was not entirely normal behaviour” the manager of Café du centre in Bassoues told RTL1, adding, “the young villagers jumped up and gave chase to the thieves. They cornered them in the gardens. The village is walled to the north and south so the thieves couldn’t escape.”
Bassoues, a village of just 400 inhabitants, is surrounded by old fortifications up to 43 metres in height, which made it easy for villagers to block the exits. Locals also found the delinquents’ car parked just outside the walls and took the extra measure of letting the air out of their tyres.
“They couldn’t get out of the village, at least not with that car… It was all over for them” said the manager of Café du Centre.
With no escape and no escape vehicle the band of thieves were forced to sit and wait for the police. It turned out the individuals were from a neighbouring village and were already known to local police. They’ve been released pending investigation.
“It just goes to show that even in a tiny village in the middle of Gers you aren’t completely safe,” said Claude Gatelet, Mayor of the village
The mayor had led the protests to the closure of the local police station in August which brought an end to two centuries of police presence in the village.
by Naomi Firsht