By Brendan Rees
A teenage thief who took off with an armful of sports gear from a store in Cranbourne has been chased down and caught by a group of heroic strangers.
The incident occurred after four male youths entered Sportspower on South Gippsland Highway about 6pm on Friday 15 November.
A Victoria Police spokesman alleged the teenagers took “a number of clothing items” before running from the store and assaulting a staff member as they fled.
A group of quick-thinking bystanders chased the boys and tackled a 15-year-old to the ground near Merinda Park train station – about 1.6km from the store – who was later arrested by police at the scene.
About $2,000 in merchandise was recovered following the citizens’ arrest but police are still on the hunt for the boy’s other accomplices who managed to flee.
The 15-year-old has been charged with theft, possess a drug of dependence, and commit an indictable offence while on bail. He was bailed to appear at a children’s court at a later date.
The incident was captured on CCTV where the teens wandered the store before grabbing different merchandise and bolting to the door.
“It was only to about half way through that things started to look a bit suss and that was more so as I started to walk towards the back – they started to rush a few things,” Sportspower store owner Nick Sleep said.
“They just carried it out under their arms. If they had of been putting in their backpacks it would’ve been a different scenario; we wouldn’t have let them get out.
“The fact they were just holding onto it; it just appeared they were there to try it on,” he said.
But as soon as they bandits move towards the front door “we knew that something was not right,” Mr Sleep said.
He said the band of strangers “just slowed them down, and held them there until police arrived.”
In a Facebook post, Sportspower expressed their gratitude to the Good Samaritans which read: “A huge thanks to our amazing local community members who helped us recover thousands of dollars’ worth of goods”.
“It was amazing to see so many people helping out as we looked for the perpetrators of a brazen daylight robbery,” the post said.
“None of this would have been possible without locals being upstanding citizens. As owners of a small, locally owned business we thank everyone for their support of your local sports store and our team of amazing employees”.
Police from Dandenong Frontline Tactical Unit are investigating. Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.