A VIGILANT customer and an eagle-eyed landlord at a Swindon pub helped police catch a gang appearing to be disguising a stolen pick-up truck.

The Rat Trap lived up to its name when the pair raised the alarm after spotting four men apparently changing the number plates on the 4X4 in the car park.

The gang is believed to have pulled over to fix a fake licence plate on the stolen truck – before being spotted by the customer making his way home.

Police put out an alert and arrested three men as they drove out of town in two cars.

Mark Richardson, the landlord at the Stratton pub, said: “Thanks to a vigilant customer this was picked up on and reported to the police and to myself very quickly.

“We have CCTV covering every angle of the pub and took down the number plates and detailed descriptions of the men and gave them to the police.

“We also took the strips from the sticky-back labels used for the fake plates which were left behind and gave them to the police.

“They could have easily slipped by unnoticed but we pride ourselves on being a pub where everyone looks after each other.”

The gang, driving the dark-coloured Toyota truck and a silver Citroen Xsara, pulled over shortly after 9pm last Thursday. The customer asked them to move as they were blocking his car and sensed something suspicious was taking place.

He noticed one of the men was fiddling with labels on the side of the truck and at first thought he was changing a company logo.

He phoned Mr Richardson in the pub and called the police.

“I went and asked them if they were all right and they said they had broken down,” Mr Richardson said. “I asked if they needed help and they said ‘no, no. no.’ They left quite sharply after that.”

A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police said three men travelling in two vehicles were arrested shortly before midnight on the A419 at junction 15 of the M4. She said the arrests took place as a result of information from the pub.