Bury St Edmunds: Have-a-go hero, 70, tackled jewellery raiders after they nearly hit his wife
A BRAVE 70-year-old who thwarted raiders armed with a sledgehammer as they hit a prestigious jewellers said he confronted the men after they nearly hurt his wife.
The have-a-go hero, who gave his name as Michael, fearlessly faced armed robbers as they hit Thurlow Champness and Son jewellers in Bury St Edmunds on Monday morning.
Michael, who lives outside Bury, said he had tackled the gang after they nearly injured his wife seconds before the attack at 9.47am on Monday.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said.
“I was just annoyed by the fact the scooter had swerved around my wife.
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“It made me really angry.
Michael said he and his wife, 62, were walking down Abbeygate Street when four raiders on two scooters almost drove into them while they were crossing High Baxter Street.
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One of the scooters narrowly missed the man’s wife who had recently had a fall and was walking with a stick.
The couple watched as the four raiders revved their engines and one scooter drove straight into the jewellers through the glass door.
“We heard all this shouting and crashing,” Michael said. “I realised something was going on so I tried to push the pillion rider off and push the scooter over.
“The other scooter backed off so I rushed into the shop.”
Once inside the store which was empty as staff had fled, Michael was confronted with one of the raiders who threatened him with a sledgehammer.
“He was coming towards me with a sledgehammer,” he said.
“I rushed at him and tried to grab him.
“He pushed past me and the only thing I could grab was the bag.”
The robber, who was wearing a motorcycle helmet, ran off and left the courageous pensioner with the bag of valuables the would-be thieves had swiped from the jeweller’s shelves.
Thanks to Michael’s fearless actions, the attempted robbers got away from the store empty handed.
Looking back on the incident yesterday, Michael said he had been bolstered by his anger at the gang’s rough treatment of his wife.
“You don’t think at the time,” he said. “I just felt a bit indignant.”
Det Insp David Giles, the police chief leading the investigation into the attempted robbery in which no-one was hurt, praised Michael for his brave actions.
But back at his home in Suffolk, Michael said his wife had not been so pleased.
“My wife thought I was an idiot,” he said. “She was trying to pull me back.”
Roland Hunt, director of Thurlow Champness jewellers, yesterday thanked courageous onlookers who tried to stop the raiders as they sped off on their scooters.
Mark Baker, 34, a worker at the nearby Savers store, chased the men on scooters as they sped off down High Baxter Street.
As Thurlow Champness was open for business as usual yesterday, Mr Hunt gave his thanks to those who stopped the robbery in its tracks.
“We are grateful to the general public,” he said.
Although police helicopters were deployed to track the gang, the men were not found.
The motorcyles were later found in nearby Long Brackland.
Anyone who may have seen the bikes enter Bury town centre or who may have any information about the raid, is asked to call West Suffolk CID on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.