Off-duty policeman hailed a hero

AN heroic off-duty policeman is recovering after suffering arm and leg injuries when he tackled a handbag snatcher outside an Essex supermarket.The incident occurred on Tuesday when Pc Nick Galpin was in casual clothes, shopping with his wife at the Tesco store at Marks Farm, Braintree.

By Sharon Asplin

AN heroic off-duty policeman is recovering after suffering arm and leg injuries when he tackled a handbag snatcher outside an Essex supermarket.

The incident occurred on Tuesday when Pc Nick Galpin was in casual clothes, shopping with his wife at the Tesco store at Marks Farm, Braintree.

As they were making their way along an aisle, he saw a man reaching into a woman shopper's trolley and walking off with her handbag.


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Pc Galpin, 29, who has 10 years' service and is a Braintree-based response officer, went after the thief who was heading for the door. He chased him round the flower stall before the offender ran out of the exit.

Just outside the door, Pc Galpin stretched to grab the handbag, which he held on to, but the momentum made him fall to the ground and the thief ran off.

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The officer suffered a wrist injury and a grazed knee. A splint was put on his wrist at Colchester General Hospital and the injury was x-rayed.

Doctors fear there could be a broken bone, so more x-rays are due to take place next week, when the swelling has gone down. Pc Galpin is now recovering at home.

He said: "For a split second I couldn't believe what I was seeing, then it registered and I instinctively chased after the thief.

"The victim was very relieved to get her bag back. It didn't contain anything of great value, but the keys to her house and business were inside.

"The trolley was behind her with her bag sitting inside it when the thief struck.

"There is a lesson here for everyone about the importance of not leaving handbags, purses and wallets in trolleys while you shop."

Insp Luke Collison said: "All credit to Pc Galpin. He responded immediately and acted in the best traditions of policing."

Previously, Pc Galpin, working with two colleagues, rescued a man in a wheelchair from a smoke-filled kitchen during a house fire at Witham in April 2004.

The supermarket thief is about 5ft 7ins tall, aged in his mid-late twenties, slim and olive skinned, possibly of Eastern European descent. He has close-cropped, dark hair and was wearing a pale mustard shirt and faded black jeans.

Anyone who saw him outside the Tesco store at about 6.20pm on Tuesday or has other information is asked to contact police at Braintree on 01376 551312.

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