Take-away owners tackle robber

A FAMILY sick of being targeted by thieves today told how they captured a drug-addict burglar in their restaurant and clung to him as he tried to flee out of a window.

A FAMILY sick of being targeted by thieves today told how they captured a drug-addict burglar in their restaurant and clung to him as he tried to flee out of a window.

Hapless thief Noel Clarke looked “petrified” according to police when they arrived and found him hanging half way out of the window following his unsuccessful escape bid.

Rong Chun Zhang and her husband Ke Jia Zhao, owners of The Fortune Inn Chinese takeaway in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, today said they felt enough was enough when they discovered Clarke raiding their till so they took matters into their own hands.

When police arrived on the scene in April, they found Clarke hanging out the window with three people holding on to his legs.

Clarke, 37, pleaded guilty to burglary at Ipswich Crown Court and was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Mrs Zhang, a mother of two, was one of the three holding on to his legs, along with Mr Zhao and a family friend.

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She said they had been angered after “experiencing nothing but trouble” since they opened three years ago.

“We did not want to let him go. We have lost too much money in the past and we did not want him to get away,” she said.

“You don't think about things like getting hurt in that moment - it was just instinct.

“We are very scared that more people will try to break into our restaurant.”

The family was alerted to the break-in by their 14-year-old daughter Wen Yan Zhao who got up at about midnight to get a glass of water.

She heard noises downstairs in the restaurant and called her father, who discovered Clarke taking cash out of the till.

A struggle ensued and as Clarke tried to escape through the back window, Mr Zhao, his wife and a friend grabbed his legs to pull him back into the restaurant.

Wen Yan said: “I could not believe there was a thief in my house. He tried to get through the window and was very strong so my mum, dad and a friend tried to pull him back. My dad told me to call the police.

“My mum's hands were all purple afterwards because she had been holding on so tight to stop him getting away.”

Since the family moved from China three years ago and set up their restaurant in Ipswich, they have had to deal with a number of incidents, from receiving prank calls to having bikes taken from outside the restaurant.

They have also had £500 stolen from the till.

Today Mrs Zhang welcomed Clarke's sentence.

She said: “I think it is enough.”

NOEL Clarke, who has a long record for dishonesty and violence, pleaded guilty to the burglary at the Fortune Inn, which he carried out in April.

Christopher Morgan, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown Court, said Clarke, 37, had been looking for the cash till when he disturbed the restaurant owners.

Mr Morgan said: “A police officer described the defendant as looking quite petrified”. He added that Clarke had been injured and “thought he had been stabbed by a sharp object”.

Clarke, of Curlew Road, Ipswich, also admitted shoplifting goods worth £155 from Gap, Superdrug and Marks & Spencer.

He also breached his bail conditions by failing to abide by a curfew.

When he appeared before Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing, Charles Riddleston, mitigating, said Clarke had spent some long spells in prison during the last ten years but was now at a point where he could be helped to become drug free.

He said a drug treatment and testing order report written about Clarke had showed positive indications that he could overcome his drug problem.

Judge David Goodin said: “I have been persuaded by Mr Riddleston to give you a chance because of your attitude to what your life has become.”

He sentenced Clarke to 12 months in prison but suspended the term for two years.

Clarke was placed on a 12-month drug rehabilitation order with regular drug testing requirements. Clarke was warned if he breached the order in any way he would be jailed.

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