JOHNSTON, Iowa - A suburban Des Moines mother has been jailed after she left her four children home alone while she traveled to Europe for a 12-day vacation in Germany, police said Friday.

Johnston police have charged Erin Macke, 30, with four counts of child endangerment and one of transferring a firearm to a person under 21. Police said the latter charge was filed because a firearm was left at home within the children's reach.

Police said Macke tried but failed to make child care arrangements for her children — two aged 12, one 7 and the other 6 — before leaving Sept. 20 for a vacation in Germany. The father of one of the children was called by his child the next day, and he tipped off police that the children had been left unsupervised, Johnston police spokeswoman Janet Wilwerding said Friday.

Johnston police Lt. Tyler Tompkins told Des Moines television station KCCI that Macke's baby sitter options all fell through, so she left the two 12-year-olds in charge.

"They were concerned, they didn't know, they were confused," Tompkins said of the youngsters. "I mean, we're only talking about 12-year-olds being the adults here."

Officers went to the residence Sept. 21 and called the Iowa Human Services Department, which took custody of the children. They have since been released to the care of relatives, Wilwerding said. Police called Macke in Germany, demanding she return.

She had planned to fly home on Sunday.

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The mother was arrested on her return Thursday. She remained in custody Friday, according to Polk County Jail records.

Court records don't list the name of an attorney who can comment on her behalf.