A MUSIC centre boss took matters into her own hands when cops struck a bum note over stolen property that ended up on sale within yards of a police station.

Allison McKay turned detective when she was tipped-off that her missing decorative wrought iron musical notes were being flogged by an antique dealer around the corner from the cop shop in Darlington.

She marched to the antiques yard to carry out her own surveillance and saw the notes were about to be sold to a customer. Having warned him he’d be buying stolen property, she went to report her findings to the police.

It was a Tuesday but she was told she’d have to come back because an investigating officer wouldn’t be available until Friday.

 “I couldn’t believe it because the notes were literally being sold yards from the police station – it would have taken 30 seconds to recover them!” she said.

To add to the irony, the notes had been made by prisoners on community service, and the antique dealer’s yard is next door to Darlington Magistrates court.

Thankfully, it ended up being a case of Allison solving the crime herself because the notes were returned by the dealer once it became clear they’d been nicked.

The drama began when the notes, made by prisoners from Kirklevington Prison in 2012, vanished from an external wall at The Forum Music Centre.

CCTV footage showed them being unscrewed and taken away by a shady figure at 3am. The Forum staff initially saw no point reporting the theft, thinking they’d be “long gone”.

However, six days later, they received a tip-off that the notes had been spotted on sale at T. Ward Antiques & Architectural Salvage yard.

Allison phoned the police at 6pm and had a call back at 10.30pm, asking her to complete a crime report over the phone.

“They promised to send someone round, but I didn’t hear back so I assumed they’d been sold,” she said.

However, curiosity got the better of her five days later, so she went to the antiques yard and was surprised to see them still on sale.

“I said I was interested in the musical notes, but a customer told me I was too late because he was there first,” said Allison. “I informed him he’d be buying goods stolen from a community facility and went to tell the police, only to be told the investigating officer was on holiday.”

Allison returned to the antiques yard and spoke again with dealer Terry Ward who arranged to have them returned.

Mr Ward explained: “A chap I’d never seen before or since carried them in and I thought they were lovely. It would have been a shame to scrap them, so I gave him £20, thinking they’d be perfect for a music centre. I’m just pleased they’re back where they belong.”

A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “We received a report of theft on April 18. Officers carried out enquiries, including reviewing CCTV footage, to try and trace the suspect.

“The stolen property was recovered by the victim in the days following the incident, who confirmed they no longer wished to progress the investigation.”