A superfit gym worker who chased, grappled and detained a shoplifter has been hailed a hero by police and supermarket staff .
Ben Lambert, 27, was taking part in a charity cyclothon in Tesco’s Vimy Road store when a thief brazenly walked out with a widescreen TV.
On hearing the shouts from staff Ben, a charity organiser for energie fitness club, leapt off his exercise bike and gave chase along with another customer.
The pursuit ended nearby when the thief, unwisely, attempted to attack former bouncer Ben, with a brick. A passerby called the police as the two fought; a man living nearby appeared with a rope, and a postman joined in the fray, before the 31-year-old habitual shoplifter was pinned down until police arrived.
Tesco later gave the hero two bottles of champagne to thank him for his bravery.
Afterwards Ben, nursing a bruised collarbone, arms and hands, said he reacted instinctively when he heard the shouting.
“We were doing a three-day event for Diabetes UK with Tesco staff, and I was taking my turn on the bike, when this guy walked out.
“Me and another customer went after him but the other man stopped to retrieve the TV which the thief threw away.
“We ended up by the canal. He stopped, picked up a brick and came running at me. We had quite a scuffle. We fell to the ground and he wouldn’t stop struggling. Eventually I overpowered him.
“Then this local resident walked past and called the police. A man ran up with a rope but I told him that we’d manage without it! Then a postman turned up before the police finally arrived.
“We’d been having a really great day at Tesco. Shoppers had been so appreciative and generous and I couldn’t help but think this guy had spoiled it. I just reacted. I didn’t think about the danger or that he might hurt me. I never expected him to turn and have a go at me.”
Ed Thompson, Tesco deputy manager, said: “Ben was absolutely fantastic. We were really grateful for his bravery in helping us out. We believe he had been taking TVs all week. The champagne was the least we could do.”
A spokesman for Beds Police added: “Bedfordshire Police commend the members of the public involved for their public spirited actions.”
*Chad Smith, of Kilgour Court, Bassett Road, Leighton, pleaded guilty to one offence of theft when he appeared at Luton Magistrates Court on December 7. His case was adjourned until Wednesday but he failed to turn up to court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.