Citizens grab robbery pair

By Kieran Campbell

A Ukrainian weightlifter, a lycra-clad cyclist and a woman in a four-wheel drive formed an unlikely crime-fighting team when they made a citizen's arrest in front of gobsmacked shoppers yesterday.

The trio combined to stop a car full of alleged thieves from making off with armfuls of coats they had snatched from a Foot Locker store on Broadway, in Auckland's Newmarket.

They used their cars to block the would-be thieves' vehicle before a crowd, including muscular 1.9m Igor Zhenzhera, held the men while waiting for police to arrive.

Cyclist Simon Coles was out for a training ride when he spotted the men trying to make off with the clothes.

The getaway driver tried to start the engine as Coles, ditching his bike on the footpath, flung open the door and grabbed for the keys.

"It happened right in front of me, basically. It was pretty obvious that people running out of a shop with hands full of clothes didn't pay for them."

The car lunged forward into traffic but Zhenzhera, who had seen the three men get into their car, blocked their route with his blue truck.

A woman, who asked not to be named, completed the roadblock by driving her Toyota RAV4 close enough to Zhenzhera's truck to stop the getaway car.

The alleged robbers rammed into the RAV4, trying to squeeze between the two vehicles.

"I was already in their way. They were trying to push me out of the way but I just pushed back," the woman said. "He was basically wedged into my car."

Coles ran to the passenger-side door and tried to pull the man from his seat but only managed to tear some of his clothes.

He grabbed at the man's hair but it was too short to get a grip.

"I lifted my leg and kicked him in the head. He was pretty angry with that and looked like he was going to get out [of the car] so I slammed the door on him." The thieves kept pushing between the truck and RAV4 until they were stuck. They decided their only option was to run.

"A bunch of us swarmed," Coles said. "I got him [the driver] in a headlock, someone kicked his feet out from under him." The man was no match for weightlifter Zhenzhera who pinned the man to the ground.

The captive kicked and yelled as he lay on the ground, screaming "I can't breathe".

Another man was tackled on the other side of the road, said Coles, but the third managed to escape.

The men were handcuffed and taken away by police.

Andy Grewal was working at the Coffee Club when he heard the commotion and ran out to film it with his iPhone.

Coles said he was "just performing my civic duty" and went off to finish his ride and have breakfast.

- APNZ

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