A thief who stole historic stocks from outside a church could end up being shackled in them if villagers get their way.
The 250-year-old wooden pillory has been returned to Broughton by an antique dealer who bought it from a man in good faith.
Now police are trying to track down the culprit who removed the stocks and some flagstones from the church grounds and sold them on.
“It was a big shock to the community when they were taken,” said village bobby PC Chris Banks.
“The stocks are important to Broughton and the theft caused a lot of unrest.
“Everyone is delighted they have been recovered.”
Villagers were furious when the Grade II listed landmark went missing from outside the Church of St John the Baptist. Some even suggested that if they were found the thief should be locked in them as punishment.
An appeal was launched through the columns of the Garstang Courier and our sister paper the Evening Post and it turned up trumps when an antique dealer spotted the article and phoned the police.
“This man had bought the stocks in good faith and didn’t realise they were stolen until he read the paper,” explained PC Banks.
“He was anxious that they should be returned to the village and, even though he has lost money, he is happy that they are back where they belong. Hopefully we can trace the person who took them.”
Anyone who has information about the theft of the stocks is asked to call 101 or contact Broughton Police Station on 01772 863390.”
l According to English Heritage the village stocks, with two shouldered slabs, two wooden beams with housing for two occupants and metal shackles, were first listed in 1952, having been restored 1902 to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII.