Thief caught by retired policeman in Sheffield let off with suspended sentence
A thief who stole tip jars and charity boxes from Sheffield city centre’s cafes and was arrested by a retired police officer has avoided jail.
Alfu Miah, of Charter Row, swiped the loose change tubs from three different businesses and stole a member of staff's purse from a fast food restaurant over the course of a week in the summer.
However, the 31-year-old was apprehended after the owner of one of the businesses he targeted – Tim Nye, of Marmadukes – made a citizen’s arrest.
At Sheffield Magistrate’s Court last week, Miah was spared jail and was instead ordered to pay £50 in compensation.
On July 31, Miah stole the tip jar from city centre cafe Marmadukes, on Norfolk Row, before going on to steal a charity box from another business the same day.
Then, on August 4, he went behind the counter of Hang Fried Chicken, in Broomhall, before stealing a handbag containing staff wages.
At a previous hearing, the court heard the victim from the chicken shop was on her last week working at the restaurant and the money she lost was sorely needed to get her through the month.
However, on August 8, Miah made the mistake of targeting another eaterie in the Marmadukes chain, this time attempting to steal tips from the business’ Ecclesall Road site.
Fed up with the persistent thieving, owner Tim Nye – who was a policeman for 30 years – set out with his manager and an electrician who was on site to find Miah.
They soon tracked him down to a nearby charity shop, where he was asking staff to swap change he had for a bank note.
Tim told The Star: “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.”
Miah subsequently pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and one count of burglary.
He was the subject of a 12 month conditional discharge at the time of the thefts after he was sentenced on May 12 for threatening behaviour.
At an earlier hearing, Miah told district judge Naomi Redhouse he had fallen on hard times after losing touch with his social worker during the pandemic and had “fallen back in with the wrong crowd”.
He appealed to the court for help with mental health issues and asked if he could be put back in touch with a social worker.
Judge Redhouse called the thefts “serious and very mean” offences, but said: “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.
“He has a long term mental health problem and no one is treating it.”
At his sentencing on October 4, Miah was handed a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £50 in compensation to Marmardukes.