A STORE owner has praised community spirit after thieves were snared by shoppers.
The have-a-go heroes stood at the exit of Easington Village News and stopped the pair of crooks from leaving the store just off the Village Green.
Police were called and arrived 10 minutes later to arrest Peter Mouter and Vicki Roberts.
Kathryn Lee, manager of the shop, said: “The customers behaved as if it was something they do every day.
“Without saying anything, they blocked the exit so the shoplifters couldn’t go anywhere.”
Ms Lee had been told the day before the drama that a couple of people were acting suspiciously in her store.
She called in police to look at CCTV footage at her home in Easington, but while they were there she got a call from the shop saying people were trying to steal goods.
The officers left and headed to the store, where they found the residents had caught the pair and had kept them locked in during a 10-minute stand-off.
Ms Lee said: “This is a lovely example of community spirit.
“We provide a service to this community and anyone thinking of shoplifting needs to know it is not something we tolerate.
“Easington Village is a nice place to live and the people here are good, kind-spirited people. I’d like to thank everyone who was involved for their help in getting these shoplifters arrested.”
The incident happened on Thursday, June 8.
Mouter and Roberts were charged with theft and were hauled before Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on August 30.
Roberts, 33, of Stephenson Square, Easington, had her case dismissed after it was deemed a fixed penalty notice for theft was sufficient and she accepted it.
Mouter, 32, of Station Road, Easington, was given a 12-month conditional discharge after he admitted theft.
Although the sentences are not heavy, Ms Lee said the actions of the residents “sends a message to people about our community.”
She added: “The sentence is not, big but I hope that youngsters who read this take note of what happens to thieves.”