A bus loaded with stolen roof tiles was stopped before it could speed off with the loot in Kagiso on the West Rand at the weekend.
Four men were arrested and the bus was impounded and taken to Kagiso police station.
Police spokesman Solomon Sibiya said the tiles were meant for RDP houses that were being built in the area.
"Apparently, the ward councillor was addressing residents when he was told about men stealing roof tiles next to a local school," he said.
Sibiya said the councillor rushed to the scene and found five men in a bus that was being blocked by residents.
Police said they had not yet identified the owner of the bus, though it seemed to be privately owned. He said, however, that one man had escaped.
Sibiya said it was the first time that criminals had attempted to use a bus as a getaway vehicle.