A shopkeeper who was a hero and caught a thief in his shop was told by the police to release him – otherwise he would face prosecution himself.
Jarnail Singh Atwal, 67, arrested the man he suspected of stealing a pack of washing machine tablets from his business on February 17.
He quickly pursued, searched and apprehended the suspect before imprisoning him at Broomhall Off License in Chaddesden, Derby.
But the brave shop owner was stunned when he called the police and was told to release the suspected criminal or face arrest.
Mr Atwal was told that his actions posed a threat to the other members of the public who were also detained at the time.
The grandfather of four said he was “horrified” by the police response after being forced to release the man.
Jarnail Singh Atwal, 67, arrested the man he suspected of stealing a pack of washing machine tablets from his business on February 17
CCTV showed the man reaching for the washing machine tablets at Broomhall Off License, Derby
CCTV cameras captured the entire incident, but so far no one has been arrested in connection with the attempted robbery.
Mr Atwal, who has owned the shop for 30 years, said: ‘We have a camera system in the shop, if strangers come in we keep an eye on it.
“I don’t know what his idea was, maybe he was trying to see if he could get away with it for once so he could come back and try again.
“He walked out and I followed him and grabbed his bag, pulled him back to the store and called the police.
“The police told me to let him go or they would prosecute. The police were dead silent, they didn’t want to do any work. They didn’t even show up for it.
The shoplifter said, “Let me go or I’ll burn the store down.” There were a few loyal customers in the store at the time.
Mr Atwal said the man tried to leave his shop without paying for the Aeriel Allin1 pods
Mr Atwal said he locked the man in the shop and called the police. The man threatened to set the store on fire, prompting police to tell the store owner to let the man go
Police said they were trying to identify the suspect through the store’s camera system
“They were not afraid and even tried to help me.
“The police asked me to send the photos and videos I have, but I haven’t heard anything since.
“They let him escape. It sends a message to thieves that anyone can walk in and take whatever they want without fear of being caught by the police.
“It’s disgusting, is there any chance of finding him now? I don’t know who he was, but it was recorded, so there’s evidence.’
Derbyshire Police said they had advised Mr Atwal to release the suspect due to the threat he posed to other customers in the shop.
But Mr Atwal labeled the police response “a bunch of rubbish” and said they didn’t even come to the scene – despite threats to set fire to his shop.
He added: “The police statement is a bunch of nonsense. In the end no one showed up.
My wife was in the shop at the time. She saw him steal the stuff, I was in the back. She told me what happened and I followed him.
Mr Atwal said he was far from impressed with the police response. He said they even threatened him with prosecution
Mr Atwal has been running his shop in Derby for 30 years
“They said let him go or we’ll prosecute you. They even called me five minutes later and asked ‘is he gone?’
“There’s no chance of finding him now, they could have pursued him right away.”
A spokesman for Derbyshire Police said: ‘Officers were called to report that on 17 February a man was caught shoplifting at a shop on Wiltshire Road, Chaddesden.
The caller explained that the man accused of shoplifting from the store, along with several other customers, was locked in the store.
The caller explained that the man allegedly made threats to harm those inside by setting fire to the store.
“Because of those threats – and the risk posed by the other customers – the caller was told to unlock the door.
“Since then, officers have spoken to the store owner to request CCTV to try and identify the man involved.”