A SUPER-FIT sports shop supervisor chased a shoplifter more than two kilometres to bring him to justice.
Chris Gates, 23, who is head of security at Sports Direct in Wellington Place, was on duty when he spotted 42-year-old Simon Prior acting suspiciously in the shop.
“He was in the store for about half an hour, pottering around not really paying attention to the products,” said Mr Gates. “He looked a bit shifty so I asked the member of staff on the door to search him when he left, but when he went out the alarm went off and he ran away.”
Fellow staff member Richard Hogben gave chase and Mr Gates, who was working behind the tills at the other end of the shop, also set off in hot pursuit.
“I was running through the shop dodging stands and customers and managed to get to the door without hurting anyone. I saw Richard up ahead and the thief in Wellington Square and I ran after them.”
The shoplifter took Mr Gates on a mazy chase up through Wellington Square, into Portland Place, Stonefield Road, and Wellington Mews, across Queens Road, round Morrisons car park, up Waterworks Road, through the underpass into Braybrooke Road and then right up the hill and back down towards the train station.
Mr Gates, a dad of three, estimates he has caught 18 shoplifters in the seven months he has worked at the shop, and said he didn’t really think about what he was doing.
“It is just impulse. When it’s all over and you get back here you think about what could have happened, especially when you’ve got kids, but you just do it at the time.
“We were running in the road dodging traffic - he didn’t care about his safety or mine.
“I don’t go the gym or anything like that but I knew when I took this job you would have to be fit and I have chased after people before.
“I was a bit out of breath by the end - he definitely didn’t take the direct route.”
Mr Gates and a police officer managed to catch Prior near the railway bridge at the bottom of Braybrooke Road near Cornwallis Gardens, and he has warned would-be thieves that it was not a one-off. “I would do it again 100 per cent. We have a zero tolerance policy on shoplifting here and we always prosecute,” he said.
The incident happened on Thursday January 13 and Prior, of Cambridge Road, appeared before Hastings Magistrates Court on Friday. He admitted stealing £17.98 worth of sports kit, including a pair of Lonsdale boxing gloves and possessing a Class B drug. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 court costs.