Shop owners praise modest hero

The owners of a jewellery shop have praised a modest hero who tackled a suspected robber in a dramatic display of bravery.Des and Donna French, who run the Gold Shop in Thetford, said that without the help of the local shopkeeper – who was too shy to be named – they could have been put out of business by the robbery on Thursday afternoon.

The owners of a jewellery shop have praised a modest hero who tackled a suspected robber in a dramatic display of bravery.

Des and Donna French, who run the Gold Shop in Thetford, said that without the help of the local shopkeeper – who was too shy to be named – they could have been put out of business by the robbery on Thursday afternoon.

During the raid, Mrs French's daughter Carly, 18, and mother Maureen Smith, 52, were hustled out the back entrance by three robbers, who grabbed an estimated £45,000 of jewellery and some £330 in cash.

The shopkeeper and several other passers-by grappled one suspect to the floor in Riverside Walk, then held him down until police arrived to arrest him.


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The hero, who asked not be named, said: "I was told something was happening in the Gold Shop and went across which is when it kicked off. I can't really remember a lot about it, it was just so quick."

He struggled with a man and wrestled him to the ground, which was when three more members of the public waded in to help hold him down.

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"The Frenchs are friends and I really don't think I am a hero," he added.

Mr French said that at the time of the robbery he and his wife were in London buying more stock and had asked his mother-in-law to sit in and help out their daughter to look after the shop while they were away.

At 2.20pm, three black men burst in to the shop and one leapt the counter, shoving Mrs Smith and Carly to the back, shouting: "This is a hold up".

"It was lucky no one got hurt," said Mr French, who hailed the have-a-go hero as the shop's saviour. "One man from a nearby store came over and asked them what was going on, then they all stormed off. A man was tackled to the ground and then two men and a woman sat on him.

"If it wasn't for that man, it would have ruined our business. We would have had nothing. He really is a hero. The first I heard of it was from my daughter who was hysterical and in tears. She said: 'Dad, we've just been robbed.'

"My daughter and Maureen were very shaken up."

Mr French said the business probably lost about £20,000 in stolen goods and cash, but about £25,000 was recovered. "We were here for about four hours last night and we have got to do a stock take to see what went."

The couple, who opened the store last year, were particularly concerned for Mrs French's mother who had only just recovered from a live-saving operation after suffering an aneurysm – a blood clot to the brain.

The Gold Shop, which was open for business yesterday with a depleted stock, was inundated with offers of support from well-wishers.

A man was yesterday being questioned by Thetford police in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, police are appealing for witnesses to come forward and call Det Con Sarah Warner on 01953 424242.

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