A PLAQUE dubbed a “shrine for mods” has been returned to its rightful owners after a thief called The Argus to return it.

A group of mods gathered on Brighton Palace Pier for the handover with Argus editor Arron Hendy.

The Quadrophenia plaque was stolen from the pier last weekend after an event marking the cult film’s 40th anniversary.

But last week, the Argus received an anonymous phone call. A man’s voice said: “You’ll have it back tomorrow – I’ll post it today.”

The thief – who said he was drunk at the time – became increasingly concerned after an online backlash.

He told The Argus: “You need to let people know I’ve returned the plaque. Everybody wants to kill me. If you read Facebook it’s getting quite aggressive.”

Quadrophenia star Gary Shail joked he would have to “call the dogs off” because there were “3,000 angry mods that want to lynch him”.

David Courtney commissioned the plaque as part of a walk of fame attraction on the pier. He said: “The thief’s lucky this didn’t happen in 1964. Imagine if he’d been a rocker: it would have been full-scale war.”

Gary, who played Spider in the 1979 film, said: “I’m amazed with the response. We’re realising this Quadrophenia plaque has become like a shrine for mods.

“It’s like nicking the FA cup or the Mona Lisa.”

Gary explained why the plaque is so important for mods. He said: “Quadrophenia kickstarted the 80s revival of the mods. It’s as British – and as Brighton – as fish and chips.

“Brighton was one of our nearest getaways from London. At the bank holiday, we’d go to the seaside – and the rockers would be there too.

“These fights you hear about – they were just a few scuffles. The papers made it out to be full scale riots. It was an old thing, like the rivalry between the Punks and the Teds before us.

“Still, Brighton is where it all happened. It’s a Mecca for the mods.

“They’re always keen to see us here now. They weren’t in 1964 though.”

In 1964 the Mods and Rockers came to blows on Brighton seafront and the rivalry war revisited by the film, starring Phil Daniels, Sting and Leslie Ash.