COMMUNITY spirited staff at a Barry supermarket proved every little helps when they decided an alleged shoplifter was not going to get away with his haul.
Security staff and colleagues at the Tesco Highlight Park store embarked on the hot pursuit of a man caught on camera – a mission which saw them drive around searching the nearby golf club and housing estate before two of them were left chasing the suspect across fields, over a tree, over a river, and through nettled hedges – before arriving at a halt, hours later, near woodland at Culverhouse Cross.
Store security Dave Sharpe, security colleague June, store security and better service manager Gareth Langdon, checkout operator Tom Barnfield, stock control manager Mike Jenkins made up the crime-busting team ably assisted by off-duty Tesco colleagues Nathan Edwards, a security manager at the Ystrad Mynach store, Barry store checkout leader Charlotte James and a group of ten Barry Comprehensive pupils on their lunch break.
Dad-of-one Mike gave chase initially in a car, before he and colleague Tom embarked on their mammoth cross country run.
Dave said shoplifters had got away with high-ticket goods the day previously, but staff were intent items were not going to be stolen again.
Cameras recorded the incident kicking off at just before 12.15pm with pursuing staff returning to the store gone 4.30pm.
Mike, 25, said the culprits dropped items with school pupils handing them back to staff while a woman directed them to where one man had fled as they drove around the Highlight Park estate.
He said: “We got out of the car and got on foot while the police were on their way. He ran around a house and we ended up running for around 45 minutes. We climbed over fences and climbed a tree to get over a river. We followed him all the way. We didn’t want to detain him.”
Mike said they had all gone through stinging nettles, but decided against pursing the man into woodland – just before police arrived in a van, with a dog handler and police helicopter.
He said: “The first ten minutes was adrenaline driven and then we had to stay with him so we could tell police. I absolutely ruined my uniform and my £100 shoes. It was a bit of a mad day. You do take it personally. We want to protect our store and the community.”
Dave added: “It was like something out of the Keystone cops. When they came back they were full of mud. I am still finishing the paperwork. The police responded immediately. They were fantastic. I’d like to thank the police for their support.”
A man is due to appear at Cardiff & Vale Magistrates court on Thursday, March 27.
Highlight Park Tesco store manager John Mitchell said he was really pleased at the way store security, staff and management responded to the incident with the teamwork displayed excellent.
He thanked the police for the rapid response and support throughout the incident.
Mr Mitchell said: “We work closely with South Wales police and the business PACT BCRP to reduce the opportunity for crime in our community.”
A Tesco spokesman said the company would be helping police with their enquiries.
He said: "Like many retailers, we are unfortunately sometimes the victim of shoplifting. Our colleagues work very hard to prevent theft and we work very closely with the local police."
A South Wales police spokesman confirmed a 37-year-old man from Cardiff was charged with theft from a shop. He is due to appear at Cardiff & Vale Magistrates court later this month.