Sheffield cafe owner makes citizen’s arrest to stop thief after being ‘abandoned by the police’

A former police officer turned café owner was forced to make a citizen’s arrest to stop a prolific thief from stealing staff tips from his business after being left ‘abandoned by the police’.

Tim Nye, 58, took matters into his own hands as he felt ‘exasperated by the lack of police action’ after officers failed to arrest a crook who was targeting his Sheffield city centre eatery.

As a result of Mr Nye’s actions rough sleeper Alfu Miah, 33, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft and burglary in relation to the theft of tip jars and charity boxes, as well as a purse when he appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court this week. 

He is due to be sentenced next month. 

Former police officer Tim Nye, 58, took matters into his own hands and made a citizen’s arrest after officers failed to arrest a crook who was targeting his Marmadukes cafe (pictured) in Sheffield city centre

Mr Nye, a former officer who served with Derbyshire Police for 30 years before retiring in 2011, first caught Miah on CCTV stealing his staff’s tips from his Marmadukes café in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, on July 31.

He reported the incident to the police and was told by officers they had a file on the criminal, who was wanted for five offences.

Mr Nye claimed that after lodging a report and providing CCTV footage of the thief, he was told by officers that they did not arrest Miah because they had ‘lots of work’, Mr Nye said.

He said that Miah returned to the café on August 4 looking to steal more tips but had still not heard from South Yorkshire Police.

But when the brazen thief returned for a third time in the space of a week, Mr Nye said he had no choice but to arrest the man himself to stop his crime spree.

He confronted Miah who had left to a different shop and detained him before the police arrived 15 minutes later to arrest him.

Mr Nye said: ‘The manager reported this to me minutes later and exasperated by the lack of police action, I decided to take matters into our own hands.

‘Sure enough, he was in a shop trying to exchange what I believe was change stolen from somewhere else that day for notes.

‘I confronted him in the shop and told him he was wanted for stealing our tips. He tried to force his way past me out of the shop.

‘I decided not to allow him to do so and carry on with his crime spree.

‘He struggled, but with the help of my manager and James from Seven Peak Electrical, we detained him until the police arrived some 15 minutes later.

‘The women in the shop were shocked, but relieved I had entered as they were worried about what he was up to. He had been in there an hour earlier.

‘The police arrested him and took him away.’

Mr Nye said the series of incidents has shown the police service is no longer able to provide a service for what could be considered ‘low level crime’.

He added: ‘They seem to ignore it hoping it will go away.

‘I don’t doubt there are good cops doing a good job, but the city centre seems to have been abandoned by the police and retailers are now left to their own devices.

‘The officers I’ve met seem completely overwhelmed and demoralised by the lack of resources.

‘They and the public deserve much better than what we are getting right now. Of that there is no doubt. 

‘Sadly the city has many problems right now. It’s fair to say it’s going through its worst period since the war.’

The former copper has launched an urgent appeal to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘make the city safe’ and help fund the force.

He said: ‘I would like to ask all those in positions of authority to recognise the urgent need to make the city a clean and safe place to visit again.

‘I love the city of Sheffield and believe that it can be a fantastic vibrant successful centre we would all like it to be, but it needs its leaders to step up.

‘And I very much include our Prime Minister in that.

‘If he truly wants to level up northern cities, then he needs to give Sheffield city the resources it needs. Words are cheap. Action is what’s needed.

‘My days of arresting people should have been over a long time ago.

‘There are good people in this city, who care and we need to come together and say enough is enough. Things have to change.’

During Miah’s brief appearance in court, he said he had not spoken to his social worker in 18 months after losing touch during the pandemic.

He said he had fallen back in with the wrong crowd and begged for help.

District Judge Naomi Redhouse called the thefts ‘serious and very mean’ offences.

Ms Redhouse told the court: ‘During Covid-19 time he was placed at a hotel and managed to keep himself out of trouble, and the trouble started again when he left the hotel and fell back in with the wrong crowd.

‘He has a long-term mental health problem and no one is treating it. I need to know before sentencing if someone is going to pick you up and support you afterwards.’

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: ‘We take a problem solving approach to key issues such as homelessness; not only focusing on enforcement but working with partners to find long-term solutions for those affected.

‘Our aim is, of course, to prevent crime, but this can be aided greatly by helping people off the streets and getting the support they need – breaking the cycle for repeat offenders.

‘Enforcement alone will not address the problem. We are acutely aware of the impact crime such as theft can have on victims.

‘Although we always aim to respond quickly, we must prioritise incidents where the offender is still in the vicinity, or where there is an immediate threat to life.

‘That day, officers in Sheffield were called to respond to numerous incidents relating to violent disorder and safeguarding vulnerable people including a young child and an adult in crisis in another part of the city.

‘An officer was assigned to the investigation and made contact with the reporting party to obtain the CCTV footage of the theft.

‘Once arrested, responding officers recognised the suspect and linked him to two other theft incidents and a commercial burglary.

‘He has since been prosecuted in relation to all four and is due to be sentenced later this month.

‘This is an example of why people should continue to report these types of crime to us – it enables us to identify patterns of offending.

‘Local officers are embedded in their communities, they recognise repeat offenders and will work tirelessly to take action to prevent future crimes.

‘We would like to thank the complainant for his proactive and quick-thinking approach to apprehending the suspect.’

They added: ‘His efforts have ensured three other victims have received justice.’

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