The kids dropped to the ground and laid themselves as flat as possible. There was no time to waste, so they scrambled to get into position. Meanwhile, cops flew overhead and realized the danger the children were in. But then they noticed the sign. It was a stroke of genius they had to see to believe.
Since 2010, Mr. Brearley and his wife, Emily, organized an annual charity egg hunt in the quiet little town of Capel in Surrey. This was where about 30 kids and adults gathered around on the field so the chocolate egg hunt could begin, and it was for a good cause, too.
Then a loud unpleasant noise came from above as the chocolate egg hunters began splitting into groups. They looked up and realized the object circling overhead was a National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter. The kids, who were around ages six and twelve, gazed at the air vehicle with wonder. Then, from the corner of their eyes, they spotted something.
“It was really noisy and we could see it said ‘police’ on the bottom. Then we saw a man running along the side of the field. We could see him but the helicopter couldn’t because it was hovering over the woods. We saw the man take his jumper off and put it around his head,” a nine-year-old girl told the newspaper.
The kids and adults were on the field to have some fun and do something good. But they never expected someone to crash their chocolate egg hunt. It’s not that they were opposed to having an extra guest, but this particular person wasn’t someone you wanted anywhere near kids.
A police spokesperson explained: "Initially, the presence of the police helicopter was enough to entertain the children and parents but it didn't take the intrepid residents long to realize they were witnessing a police pursuit set within their quiet rural community.” They soon realized the danger was real, and they were in the middle of it.
A report of intruders at an abandoned building by Horsham Road in Capel led the Surrey Police to send a helicopter to go after them. NPAS sergeant Paul Sochon shared: "I'm sure the last thing the group of daring Capel residents expected when they set out on Friday afternoon was to abandon their Easter egg hunt to assist us in a police search but the initiative they demonstrated proved to be invaluable.”
Most cops would warn the public that being a hero during a police pursuit is a bad idea. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. The last thing a cop wants is for a civilian to get caught in the line of fire, especially when there are children involved.
"The swift action taken by the group of parents and their children was the sort of thing you would usually associate with an Enid Blyton adventure but their ingenuity proved a great help for our crews.” Instead of being frightened, the kids thought quickly and came up with a solution that shocked everyone. No one expected these kids to be so creative.
A nine-year-old girl described what happened next: ‘It was really noisy and we could see it said “police” on the bottom." It seemed like everyone was trying to get the chopper’s attention by waving, pointing and jumping, but it was hovering over the woods. What else could they do? Then, it came to them.
They jumped and shouted at the helicopter, but the flying machine just hung above them as if unsure of where to go next. The kids jumped into action and came up with a way to catch their attention. In seconds, they all got on their knees like a bunch of efficient machines and got to work. When the police took notice of them, they couldn’t believe it.
In an instant, the kids had collectively come together to form an arrow, which could easily be seen from up above. At first, all they heard was the clamor of the helicopter’s engines and the blades turning through the air. Meanwhile, the pilot simply assumed that this was "just kids pulling a prank."
The cops needed a sign to catch the intruders who were on the run, and they got one. The kids below came up with a great way to point them in the right direction. The only problem was, cops just weren’t paying too much attention to it. Not at first anyway.
Then, the pilot decided to fly over the wooded area where the human arrow was pointing to. Using the helicopter’s thermal imaging cameras, he was able to spot a human figure running through the trees and underbrush. Now that the helicopter crew had found their suspect, they sent the information to the ground officers and the chase began.
A couple of decades ago, an intruder running from the law would have probably gotten away once he ran into the woods. But in modern times, authorities are using technology like thermal imaging cameras, which give them sight beyond sight. And this certainly paid off this time.
The NPAS crew landed in the field and thanked the kids for helping them to apprehend the intruder they were looking for. Then the children decided to share some of the chocolate eggs they had managed to find before the police pursuit interrupted their fun. The chocolate treats were undoubtedly well-received after a tough shift.
Aside from chocolate eggs, the NPAS crew got an even bigger payoff in the form of a 27-year-old man and a 28-year-old man, who were both arrested in connection with the burglary incident. The two suspects were linked to the robbery at an abandoned building in the vicinity. But they eventually made bail and were released while awaiting a trial date.
The kids were elated to have lent a hand, and each of them told their own version of the adventure they had that day. "We feel really proud – it was awesome." “It was really noisy and we could see it said ‘police’ on the bottom.”, “Then we saw a man running along the side of the field. We could see him but the helicopter couldn’t because it was hovering over the woods.”, “We saw the man take his jumper off and put it around his head.”
"But the helicopter looked like it was pointing in the opposite direction. Then two of my friends said, 'Let’s get into an arrow' and we got into position on the ground." Another 9-year-old girl added: "About five minutes later, the helicopter came back and landed in the field and the officers came to talk to us. They said they thought we were messing around at first but they followed our arrow and caught the men. We feel really proud of what we did."
About the most exciting thing that happens in most kids’ lives is the possibility that a teacher might not hand out any homework that day. But these kids had experienced something incredible that would stay with them quite possibly forever.
The kids were compared to Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” once the Surrey Police released the footage of the children forming a human arrow that pointed the police helicopter in the direction of the suspected burglars running through the woods. The kids had become internet sensations overnight, and they even earned their very own nickname.
The kids were now known as “The Tremendous Twelve,” which was as close as they could get to being compared to an Enid Blyton story. They even had a four-legged companion named Molly, who was the family’s Yorkshire Terrier. But the kids’ parents asked them to stay anonymous, especially after some not so nice comments popped up on social media.
Mr. Brearley and his wife Emily are the parents of one of the heroic kids. And they’ve held this charity egg hunt ever since 2010. This year, they managed to raise about $195.31 (£150) for a one-year-old boy suffering from leukemia. Mrs. Brearley said that the children’s actions were "typical of this exceptional little community". She also explained: "We don’t even know the names of the officers who came and thanked our little heroes but they were generous in their praise."
Both the grownups and the kids are touched by the praise they’ve gotten for a job well done. But they honestly can’t believe how big this story has gotten. Photos of their human arrow have literally gone viral after Surrey Police released them to the public. Mr. Brearley explained: “They can’t believe how much attention it has got.”
40-year-old veteran Ben Brearley, who is one of the parents, said: "The kids were great and enjoyed the excitement. A lot of people have been saying that it is like something out of Enid Blyton or Scooby Doo. The kids love that." The children used their heads, came up with a plan and then laid in the Surrey field for a minute to get the pilot to look in the right direction. Even Sergeant Paul Sochon of the Surrey Police couldn’t stop praising these kids. He said: "The initiative they demonstrated proved invaluable."