Store boss throws shoplifter to floor in citizen’s arrest

Urfan grabs the suspect before wrestling him to the floor

Urfan grabs the suspect before wrestling him to the floor

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YOU might sometimes wonder how you would respond if you spotted a shoplifter taking goods from a store.

But post office boss and former Tae Kwon Do champion Urfan Hussain had no hesitation when a shoplifter targeted his shop.

Urfan takes the suspect down on the floor

Urfan takes the suspect down on the floor

The 30-year-old has become an internet hit after posting CCTV footage of himself tackling the teenage thief on YouTube. In the video, Mr Hussain is seen throwing the youth to the ground after he tried to leave the shop with two bottles of milkshake worth £2.30.

Then Mr Hussain’s 51-year-old father, Riaz, is seen joining the fray, also tussling with the shoplifter on the floor of the Costless Express store, which houses Muirhouse Post Office.

Mr Hussain said he hoped the film, which has already received more than 1000 views since the start of the week, would prove a deterrent to shoplifters visiting the store, which his family has run for 21 years. But the footage also sparked criticism from some locals, who believe “unreasonable force” was used in subduing the thief. Mr Hussain said the thief had been spotted allegedly stealing in the store “three or four times” on Saturday, and had been barred.

He said: “He came back and stole two more shakes. I approached him as he went for the door and he took a swing at me. I’m a second degree black-belt in Tae Kwon Do so I know how to control that kind of situation and do it without hurting someone. I grabbed him and threw him down.

“He was shouting and swearing and then he started going for his pockets. I didn’t know if he was going to pull a needle or a knife and, after what happened last year, I didn’t want to take a chance.”

In January last year, Mr Hussain was held up at gunpoint by 18-year-old Craig Vallance and threatened with being shot.

Wielding what turned out to be a replica rifle, Vallance, who was later jailed for five years and four months, sparked a manhunt. Mr Hussain, who said he deals with around three shoplifters a week, most of whom surrender without incident, said: “It was my friend who suggested I put the CCTV on YouTube, but I had no idea it would get so many hits.”

He added: “The police said I should’ve let him leave the store first but Scots law is on my side as he went past the counter and touched the door.”

But other local shopkeepers have accused Mr Hussain of using excessive force similar to that seen in the infamous YouTube video, which got two million views, where a train passenger, dubbed the “Big Man”, ejected an alleged fare dodger.

One shopkeeper, who asked not to be named, said: “This was clearly unreasonable force. It was totally disgusting and unacceptable. The shopkeeper should be charged with assault.”

A police spokeswoman said: “A 17-year-old boy has been charged in connection with this incident, and is due to appear at court at a later date.”

amcewen@edinburghnews.com