War veteran tackled suspected thief in Hampstead – and then 'got the sack'

War veteran Mark

War veteran Mark tackled a thief stealing from Reiss clothing store in Hampstead High Street - Credit: Mark

A war veteran who tackled a suspected thief running out of a Hampstead store has launched a fundraiser after being fired by his employers.

Mark, who did not want his full name published, is a British Army war veteran and was a full-time tutor for a Hampstead-based family.

On July 26 he was with their 10-year-old child when he saw a man run out of the Reiss store down Hampstead High Street, chased by a staff member.

Mark said he was worried one of them would get struck by a car and, after making sure the child was safe, he pursued and caught the thief.

Reiss clothing store in Hampstead High Street

Reiss clothing store in Hampstead High Street - Credit: Google

He said: "I didn't know at the time if the guy had a knife. I was with a 10-year-old child and I thought that if the thief runs back up and he has a weapon, the child might get hurt.

"I bear hugged him and he was kicking and punching me and left pretty bad injuries on my shin. I was holding on to him saying 'give this stuff back'.

Mark injuries

Mark injuries after tackling a thief in Hampstead High Street - Credit: Mark K

"The lady [Reiss staff member] took the things out of his satchel and I threw him on the pavement. He then started spitting at me and coming towards me so I kicked him to keep distance.

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"I then ran back to the child and took refuge in a shop."

When he told the child's mother, he said he "got the sack for it".

A former soldier with the British Army from 2007 to 2012, Mark served in Afghanistan twice.

"I've dealt before with high pressure environments like that. Ultimately everyone was fine, even the robber," he said. "I didn't raise my voice at him or hurt him".

Mark has since returned to Yorkshire and set up a fundraiser to help with living costs.

"I've been unemployed for the best part of all this year. I'd just got back into employment – it's pretty devastating."

Police said they received a report of an assault in Hampstead High Street.

"The incident happened on Tuesday, July 26 while the victim, aged in his 30s, was detaining a suspected shoplifter," they said.

"No arrests have been made. Enquiries continue."

Reiss and Mark's former employers have been contacted for comment.

To donate visit www.gofundme.com/f/soldier-fired-for-stopping-thief