Valiant Stratford priest detains thief by sitting on him - The Stratford Observer

Valiant Stratford priest detains thief by sitting on him

Stratford Editorial 7th Sep, 2022 Updated: 7th Sep, 2022   0

NOT all heroes wear capes – some wear cassocks.

The valiant priest at St Gregory’s Church in Stratford detained a suspected thief by sitting on him.

Father Alex Austin sat on a man, who he suspected had helped himself to the contents of the church’s donation boxes, until police arrived.

Father Alex said: “I got back from the monastery on Friday (September 2) at around 2.30pm and my secretary was in a panic. She said there was a thief in the church.

“She had gone into the church to carry out an errand and seen a man acting in a funny manner. She thought there was definitely something suspicious about him. So she went back into the parish office and she switched on our live stream so she could watch him on our cameras. She phoned the police and she also phoned her partner as she was really afraid.

“The three of us sat there watching him on the live stream helping himself to the money boxes. He wasn’t smashing them open but using surgical instruments to draw the money out through the slots. It was quite incredible to watch.

“When it looked like he had finished doing what he was doing, we thought we had better go and lock the door so he couldn’t get out. We all went round and we held the door to the church closed by leaning all our weight on it and he was banging on it and screaming and shouting, making a real fuss.

“He was so pumped up on adrenaline he managed to wrench the door open and he was about to leg it.

“But then my secretary’s partner, who used to be a doorman at a nightclub, raced in and grabbed him and there was a right scuffle.”

Then Father Alex thought he saw a knife.

He said: “I saw something which looked like a blade. I thought he had a knife. It turned out to be a screwdriver.

“It was then that I sat on him. That was my big moment. I somehow also managed to wrench the screwdriver out of his hand.

“I sat on him until the police came. I wouldn’t say I was a hero. It was a joint effort but yes, quite the adventure.”

Warwickshire Police confirmed a 59 year-old man from Bedworth had been charged with theft before being bailed. He is set to appear before magistrates in Coventry on September 23.


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