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Customer to the rescue
HEADING out to fill his car up, the last thing Thomas Reeve thought he would end up doing was tackling a thief.
But the 31-year-old cleaner from Kirtlington acted on impulse, jumping out of his car to the rescue of a Sainsbury’s security guard who was in trouble.
He had just pulled into the Oxford Road petrol station in Kidlington with his girlfriend Amy Huckin, 23, when he said he saw the member of staff being punched by a man who it was thought had tried to steal two trolley loads of food, clothing and electrical items.
Acting on instinct, Mr Reeve, who works at Owen Mumford in Woodstock, jumped out of his car at the store – just yards from Thames Valley Police’s headquarters – and within seconds had pinned the alleged thief to the floor.
He said: “I was going to get petrol and as I drove past the petrol station by the corner of the shop there was a big man struggling with a security guard and he was throwing punches. Obviously it was a reaction thing. I stopped the car and ran over.
“I basically tackled him to the ground and knelt on him for a couple of minutes until back-up arrived from inside the store.
“My girlfriend told me not to do it but I was concerned for the security guard as the other guy was about 6ft 3in.
“I put my arm around his neck and my knee in his back and took him down that way. I found his weak spot and just put pressure on his back.
“He was a big guy and his arms were flailing trying to hit me.”
Mr Reeve, who previously worked as a chef at Yates’s pub, in Sheep Street, Bicester, and was a groundsman at University Parks, in Oxford, for six years, said he held down the alleged shoplifter until store staff took over and the police arrived.
He added: “It showed how strong he was as about six young lads came out of Sainsbury’s to help.
“It wasn’t until afterwards that I thought it could have been dangerous, but in the moment I didn’t think of myself.”
But father-of-two Mr Reeve of Heyford Road, said he would not hesitate to do it again.
He said: “The thing I found most shocking was that there were people there and they were walking past.
“It’s just something I felt I had to do, I just thought I was doing the right thing.”
Mr Reeve’s girlfriend Miss Huckin, from Bicester, who had been in the car with him when it happened last Tuesday evening said she was “really proud”.
She added: “It was over in a matter of seconds. I’m really proud of Tom.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are very grateful to this brave customer for helping to detain the shoplifter but would generally encourage customers not to put themselves at risk.”
A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “Whilst we would always advise people against taking matters into their own hands, we would commend Mr Reeve for his actions.”
James Wells, 42, of Cornish Road, Chipping Norton, has been charged with theft from a shop and is due to appear at Banbury Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, September 18.