AN armed raider was arrested while trying to rob an off-licence at knifepoint thanks to a quick-thinking shop assistant helped by public-spirited passers-by.
The masked robber was trapped and held inside the shop for several minutes after employee Kamal Preetsingh ran outside, pulled the door closed behind him and held it shut.
He was eventually joined by several passers-by who helped him detain the raider inside the store in Ashington, Northumberland, while the alarm was raised.
Some locals also ran to a nearby bookmaker’s shop and asked staff to dial 999, saying a robbery was in progress.
Northumbria Police officers arrived within minutes of the emergency calls being made, and the robber was arrested and a knife recovered at the scene.
Yesterday a 25-year-old local man was being held and questioned by detectives on suspicion of robbery following the citizen’s arrest-style incident, in which no one was injured.
It happened just before 5pm on Monday when Mr Preetsingh, 30, was working on his own in the Drinks Link off-licence and grocery store in Milburn Road.
He was behind the counter when he was confronted by a man wearing a balaclava-type mask and brandishing a knife, who threatened him.
Yesterday Mr Preetsingh, who works for a friend who owns the shop, said: “He went to pick up some drink from the shelves and tried to pick up a laptop which was on the counter.
“I ran out from behind the counter, went outside and pulled the door shut behind me to keep him inside.
“He was trying to pull it open from the inside but I managed to keep it shut.
“A girl came past and saw what was happening and called the police on her phone. A few people then came along and helped me hold the door shut on the man inside.
“This all went on for between five and 10 minutes and then about three police officers arrived and went in and arrested him.
“I am all right now but it was quite frightening and my heart was beating fast.”
The alarm was raised by people who went into the nearby Chisholm bookmaker’s office and asked staff to tell police that an attempted robbery was taking place.
Yesterday Howard Chisholm, managing director of the firm, said: “As far as I understand it, some members of the public went into our Milburn Road shop and said there was a robbery a few doors along, so our staff raised the alarm.
“It is a close-knit community and I believe the shop worker was helped to keep the man inside until the police arrived. Our staff were very happy to help foil a crime from being committed.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At 4:47pm on Monday police received a report that a man had threatened staff with a knife inside the Drinks Link shop in Milburn Road, Ashington.
“Officers attended and arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of robbery. A knife was recovered at the scene. No one was injured during the incident and inquiries are ongoing.”