A gardener’s late-night pottering sparked a major police operation with armed officers, a dog unit and a helicopter scrambled after reports of a man brandishing a weapon.

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In fact, it was only 55 year-old plumber Stephen Hogan, from Dorset, who was rolling his soil and raking his lawn under an outdoor light.

Stephen had been gardening late with friend Wayne Dodd when cops swooped.

They’d received a 999 call from a nearby nursing home, where staff reported seeing a man with a weapon.

Officers raced to Stephen’s bungalow at midnight while a National Police Air Service helicopter hovered overhead, in an operation that cost thousands of pounds.

Stephen had bought a roller to help with a garden project. That evening he and son Sean, 23, put it together.

Stephen said: “There was a commotion out the front. My wife Alison looked outside and saw five police cars, armed officers and dogs. We could hear the police helicopter above us.”

Cops left satisfied that nothing illegal was going on and the garden rake had been mistaken as a weapon.

Stephen said he had been “rolling an old part of the garden” and “raking over the ground” when cops swooped.

He said: “It is reassuring that police checked it out so thoroughly but in the end they did all that just to see what was going on in our garden.”

Stephen added: “The sheer number of armed police made people in the neighbourhood think there was something more sinister to it.”

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “At 11.41pm [on 24 July], we had a report of someone with a weapon but it turned out to be someone who was doing some late-night gardening using a rake.”