Have-a-go hero tackles town shop thieves

Ian Cockings with Rheanna Tolmie, Louise Leong and Lindsay Wilkinson.
Ian Cockings with Rheanna Tolmie, Louise Leong and Lindsay Wilkinson.

A local hero has been thanked by the community after stepping in to stop two thieves targeting businesses in Boroughbridge.

Lousie Leong, the owner of men’s outfitters Joshua Adams, was in the shop on Horsefair when two men walked in and began behaving suspiciously.

Concerned, she challenged one but, as the men left, she realised her mobile phone was missing and voiced her shock and exasperation to a customer, 26-year-old Ian Cockings, who was there to be fitted for a suit for a friend’s wedding.

Quick as a flash, Ian pursued the men, confronted them and frog-marched them back to the shop, where the missing phone was quickly found – dropped by one of the culprits who knew the game was up.

Despite CCTV footage later showing the phone being discarded, the men protested their innocence and became more agitated, but it was the glances they kept throwing Ian’s six-year-old son – also in the shop at the time – that persuaded Ian not to continue to bar their exit.

“I didn’t really think twice when I went after them,” said burly farmer, Ian. “They didn’t get much choice when I ‘persuaded’ them to come back to the shop but, after the guy who had the phone dropped it, we couldn’t really prove they’d done anything wrong.

“He kept saying I should search him but, of course, by then, he didn’t have the phone on him any more. However, it was the way they kept looking at my son which prompted me to let them go – but we called police, who told us two more shops in Boroughbridge had reported distraction thefts that day.”

Louise added: “It’s very unusual for this sort of thing to happen in Boroughbridge. As soon as it did, I alerted the other shops to warn them.

“I’ve handed over my CCTV footage to the police and hopefully, the people responsible will be punished. I’m extremely grateful to Ian and was delighted he accepted my offer of providing a suit for the wedding for free.”

Ian’s public-spirited actions also won praise from fellow traders in Boroughbridge – including the bride at the wedding Ian was to attend, Rheanna Tolmie, who runs the Urban Hair salon on Boroughbridge High Street.

Rheanna said: “Ian is a fantastic guy and it’s no surprise that he would do something like this to help someone who had been targeted by criminals.

“We’re lucky in Boroughbridge that things like this don’t happen very often, but when they do, everyone works together to help each other out – and to thank the people who have helped our businesses.”

Ian was also invited to Urban Hair for a free cut and styling in time for the wedding – complemented by grooming from the town’s Beauty Shop across the road, where proprietor Lindsay Wilkinson is more used to collaborating with Rheanna, preparing brides for their big day.

“When I heard what Ian had done, I thought adding something from the Beauty Shop to what Louise and Rheanna had offered was the least we could do,” she said.

A police spokesman praised Ian’s action – but warned the public intervening isn’t always the best option.

The North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We would always advise that people only get directly involved in tackling criminals if they can do so without putting themselves at risk.”