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Hero prevents cigarette theft

PUBLISHED: 18:00 07 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:42 03 March 2010

A LONE burglar hijacked a car before ramming it into an Ipswich cafe and trying to steal a cigarette machine.

But brave a neighbour of Nello's Cafe in Wherstead Road refused to standby and let it happen and managed to get the machine back before the driver limped off up the road in his damaged car.

A LONE burglar hijacked a car before ramming it into an Ipswich cafe and trying to steal a cigarette machine.

But brave a neighbour of Nello's Cafe in Wherstead Road refused to standby and let it happen and managed to get the machine back before the driver limped off up the road in his damaged car.

The drama began around 5.20pm on Saturday when a woman called police to say a man had forced her from her silver Renault Megane in the Norwich Road area and driven away with her car.

Six hours later the car was used as a battering ram to smash down the doors of the café.

Residents came running from their houses after hearing a huge bang as the car rammed through the doors. The force of the impact destroyed the doorway and left huge cracks in the pillars.

Owner of the cafe Nello Staiano could not believe the damage caused.

He said: "He tried to knock down the main pillar and just took the cigarette machine.

"I really need to say thank you to the neighbour who got the machine back."

It was neighbour Richard Rupiya who bravely tackled the driver and dragged the machine back out of the car.

He said: "I was just sitting downstairs when I heard this huge smash and when I looked out I saw this guy had reversed into the door.

"At first I thought it was just an accident and then when I saw the guy run into the cafe I thought it was a domestic.

"But then I saw him come running out with the cigarette machine and shouted at him to stop."

The ram raider who was around 5ft 5ins told Mr Rupiya to mind his own business but thought better of tackling his 6ft 3in opponent and jumped into the car to try and drive away - but the car refused to budge.

He said: "I did think of punching him while he still had the machine but then he got in the car and I did not know whether he had a gun or not so did not think it was wise to go for him then."

But while the raider was trying to move the car, Mr Rupiya managed to rip the number plate from the back before taking out the cigarette machine leaving the hapless burglar to drive away with nothing.

Suffolk police eventually found the car abandoned in Philip Road in Ipswich.

The burglar is described as around 5ft 5in with tanned skin and short dark hair.

Police spokesman Simon Stevens praised Mr Rupiya for his brave actions but advised people to think twice before getting involved in these situations.

He said: "The man was very brave to do this but in general terms we would advise people not to get involved but to dial 999 and not to risk injuring themselves.

"People must think of their safety first."

Mr Stevens also said they are linking the raid to the attempted robbery of a car in Kensington Road just before the hijack took place.

The owner of the car spotted someone trying to break into his vehicle but was threatened with a screwdriver when he tried to stop him.

Anyone with information on any of the incidents should contact Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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