Armed police raid home looking for gun – only to discover it was a toy

Thirteen armed police raid family home in hunt for weapon after receiving tip-off about a rifle in a car – only to discover it was a toy cowboy gun

  • Gemma Sterland, 39, said 13 armed officers and a dog unit arrived at her home
  • Mother-of-two from Warwickshire said: ‘It was like a scene out of Line of Duty’

A mother was ‘shocked’ when armed police raided her family home looking for a weapon – to find out it was her five-year-old son’s toy cowboy gun.

Gemma Sterland, 39, said that around 13 police officers and a dog unit arrived at her home after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public that they had a rifle.

A concerned passerby had seen her husband put what appeared to be a rifle into the boot of his car, and fearing it was a real weapon called the police.

However, it was in fact a £12.99 cowboy gun they had purchased for their son at Smyths Toy Store in Longbridge, West Midlands.

The next day, Ms Sterland received a knock on the door and was horrified when she realised it was armed police. 

The Sterlands were terrified when armed police showed up at their door following reports of a gun in the house

Captured on her Ring doorbell, armed officers turned up at her home in Warwickshire and started banging on the door after receiving a tip-off they had a weapon

Following the tip-off, officers had tracked them to their home in Studley, Warwickshire, and turned up to investigate, banging on the door and asking them to put their hands up.

In the moment police knock on her door, captured on her Ring doorbell, the officer says: ‘Armed police. Put your hands up. Who else is in the property right now?’

The mother-of-two was at home with her partner Mark, 43, and their children, Charlie, five, and Aodhan, 13.

She said: ‘I got a phone call from my neighbour who said: ‘There’s police in your back garden.’

‘I thought she had lost the plot, then there was this hammering on the front door, and someone yelling: ‘Police!’

Mark, 43, Gemma, 39 and Charlie Sterland, five

‘I was utterly terrified, and my mind was absolutely racing. I had no idea what had happened. I wondered whether my 13-year-old, Aodhan, had been making prank calls.

‘They asked me who was in the property, and I told them with my hands in the air, before they came inside.

‘The neighbours must have thought we were running a drugs ring.’

However, when police asked where they had been the previous day, Ms Sterland said it was like ‘a lightbulb moment’ when she realised they were referring to her son’s toy gun.

Police vans had filled the quiet street, while other officers turned away Ms Sterland’s business clients who had turned up for a meeting at her house.

Officers revealed they had been tipped off that Mark had been spotted loading a firearm into the boot of the family car the previous day at a car park in nearby Longbridge.

But the family had actually been visiting a toy shop – where Charlie had been bought a toy as a treat.

Armed officers had staked out the house prior to knocking, even climbing up their fence

Ms Sterland took to Facebook to apologise to neighbours, reassuring them ‘we are not running a crime empire from our home’

Gemma explained: ‘We were visiting the boy’s nan, who has just had a liver transplant.

‘We were a bit early for visiting time so we decided to take the boys to a toy shop and treat them as it’s been a hard time.

‘Charlie had actually picked out a nerf gun, but I didn’t want him to have something that actually shoots pellets, so I directed him towards the cowboy gun instead, as I thought it was a bit gentler.

‘As soon as we got back in the car, he asked to have a look at it, so Mark got it out of the boot, took the packaging off and gave it to Charlie.

‘When the police told us they’d had a report of a firearm in the car, we realised straight away what had happened.’

Charlie fetched his toy to show officers – who immediately clocked the mix up.

Gemma, who runs a diet consultancy firm, said: ‘Although it gave us a fright, we’re so pleased that the police did actually investigate properly.

‘We know that nobody was in any danger, but they didn’t know that our children weren’t in danger.

‘They were really professional and couldn’t have been more apologetic.

‘They still asked to look in the boot of our car, so they did their job really thoroughly.

‘It’s just a funny story now – although I did have to go round and speak to all of our neighbours to reassure them we hadn’t done anything wrong!

‘The boys both think it’s hilarious now, and couldn’t wait to tell all their friends at school.

‘We’ll be keeping the cowboy gun for a long time – but just in the house!’

Warwickshire Police have been contacted for comment. 

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