Former cop makes citizen’s arrest after ‘lack of action’ by police in Sheffield

A former cop made a citizen’s arrest which landed a prolific thief in court, claiming a lack of action by the police in Sheffield left him with no option but to take matters into his own hands.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 11:25 am

Former police officer Tim Nye, who runs Marmadukes – a local chain of three eateries in Sheffield – said despite making several complaints to the police and obtaining CCTV footage, his business was regularly targeted by a crook without any action seemingly being taken by the authorities.

Mr Nye said he and colleagues felt they had no option but to attempt to apprehend the man themselves and their citizen’s arrest landed 33-year-old rough sleeper Alfu Miah before magistrates in Sheffield this week.

Miah pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft and burglary, relating to the theft of tip jars and charity boxes from small businesses in the city centre, as well as a purse.

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Marmadukes Cafe owner Tim Nye

He is to be sentenced next month.

Mr Nye said Miah was caught on CCTV stealing staff tips from his Norfolk Row cafe in the city centre on Saturday, July 31 and the incident was immediately reported to the police.

But a few days later and without any update from South Yorkshire Police, Miah returned to the cafe on Wednesday, August 4, looking for more tips to steal.

Mr Nye, who served with Derbyshire Police for 30 years before retiring in 2011, said: “An eagle eyed member of staff spotted him and sent him away.

“On hearing this and still not having had any contact from the police, I made a formal complaint online.

“I received an automated reply saying they would reply within 10 days. More delay. I was getting very frustrated.”

The 58-year-old said two days later, he received an email saying his complaint had been filed and that the officer in the case would make contact with them.

He added: “I spoke to the civilian in the complaints department and she said they had so many complaints to deal with and the police officers had lots of work, hence the delay.

“I told her that waiting a week where someone had been caught on camera was just not right. I spent a whole afternoon looking around the city centre for him. No luck.

“Sure enough though as soon as the police got the CCTV, he was identified as someone who was well known to them.

“You might think they would spring into action and get him arrested for the five offences he was wanted for. Not a bit of it.

“The week passed and sure enough on Sunday, the tip thief paid us another visit this time to our Ecclesall Road site. He left empty handed.

“I tried to contact the police, but got no reply. I’d been assured he was going to be arrested over the weekend. He wasn’t.”

The persistent thief returned to the Ecclesall Road site once again, according to Mr Nye, where he was immediately told to leave by the manager.

He 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.

“Helped by the manager and our electrician, who happened to be on site, we walked along Ecclesall Road to see if we could find him. 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 was 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.”

He said the series of incidents has shown that the police service is now no longer able to provide a service for what could be considered “low level crime”.

“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. 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.

“If we don’t, the spiral of decline will continue and all the major structural projects will simply be a huge waste of money.

“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.”

South Yorkshire Police said the force will comment once legal proceedings are concluded.

During Miah’s brief appearance in court, he said he hadn’t 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, but 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.”