Belsize Park supermarket staff turn tables on would-be robber armed with fake gun

Staff at a Belsize Park supermarket tackled a would-be robber this afternoon.

Staff at a Belsize Park supermarket tackled a would-be robber this afternoon. - Credit: Archant

Plucky Belsize Park supermarket workers turned the tables on a would-be robber armed with a fake gun this afternoon.

Witnesses describe seeing a man run into Thornton’s Budgens in Haverstock Hill at about 1.45pm before trying to steal cash from the Post Office counter in front of shocked customers.

But when staff realised his weapon was not a firearm but simply two metal pipes taped together, they turned the tables on the would-be robber, with four shopworkers pinning him to the floor, one witness said.

James Thornton, in the store at the time, said he heard screams before colleagues shouted for help from the shop’s security guard.

“I saw a man by some stalls,” he said. “He ran into a sealed-off area. He was pushing against a door and staff were pushing back. Everyone was gathering around. They got out, put him in a locked position and surrounded him.

“We were really worried the guy was armed, but he wasn’t. Luckily, there were no casualties.

“I know these things can happen, but you don’t expect it to. It’s one of those things that takes you by surprise.”

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The store was this afternoon sealed off while Flying Squad detectives investigated.

Speaking to the Ham&High outside the store, owner Andrew Thornton said: “Everybody is OK, but a bit shaken. But nobody got hurt – that’s the main thing.”

Paying tribute to his workers, Mr Thornton added: “They were fantastic. They are absolutely brilliant. It was beyond the call of duty for the four guys who held the guy on the floor.

“At that time we didn’t know whether he had a knife or was armed,” he added.

A Met spokeswoman confirmed a man had been arrested on suspicion of robbery.