Bystanders hailed as heroes

Thanks to the quick thinking actions of bystanders, a man was captured and arrested after attempting to steal a woman’s handbag in Pukekohe last week.

Last Tuesday, a woman was walking along West Street when a man approached her and said hello before grabbing her handbag and making a run for it.

Tamara Bennett had just picked up her father and was travelling in her car between Helvetia Road and the Pukekohe Medical Centre when they heard the woman scream.

“We saw a man running away and we heard her yell ‘he has my handbag and keys,’ so I gave chase. I also noticed a red 4×4 behind me ready for backup.”

Tamara said the man started to run down Tobin Street before heading back to West Street.

“The 4×4 had been held up a second at the roundabout, which was great as he could see I failed to stop him. They gave chase and cut him off in the Coundtown carpark. The passenger jumped out of the 4×4, and the offender tried to get away, however, this wonderful community hero made sure that this wasn’t an option and some other bystanders helped contain the man.”

Tamara noticed that the man still had the lady’s bag, but he said he had dumped her keys ‘along the way.’

“With the Police on their way, I headed back along his escape path to look for the keys and to find the poor victim. I didn’t find the keys but found the woman crying on the side of the road on West Street. I walked her back to the Police who were still at Countdown. It was a very shocking ordeal for her. Her top was ripped and she was very shaken.”

Finding out where the woman worked, Tamara and her father finished their errands and called in to drop off a safer handbag that they had bought for her.

“It can go over her head, and across the chest, rather than the one that she had. I would like to nominate those two men in the red 4×4 and the bystanders that helped assist as community heroes. It takes a lot of courage to risk self-injury for others and they were amazing,” said Tamara.

Police have arrested and charged a 44-year-old male with theft. He is due to appear in the Pukekohe court on Wednesday 15 March 2017.

Inspector Mark Rowbottom, Acting Area Commander for Counties Manukau South, said that although Police are aware of the recent theft report referred to, there is not a particular bag snatching issue in the area.

“Police remind anyone carrying valuables such as handbags, to keep a close eye on them and carry them close to your body. Handbags and wallets should not be left unattended, which includes not leaving them on top of your car or anywhere beyond arm’s reach in a public place. Any reports of theft or attempted thefts, as always, should be reported to Police. “

Further advice on keeping yourself and your property safe is available here www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community