A former British Army solider turned children’s tutor has claimed he has been left jobless after he was fired for chasing down a suspected shoplifter while looking after a ten-year-old boy.
Mark K, who served in the army between 2007 and 2012, sprang into action when he spotted the thief running running along London’s Hampstead High Street carrying a satchel full of stolen items from high-end clothing store, Reiss.
CCTV footage from health food shop Planet Organic – outside of which the altercation took place – shows the army veteran grabbing hold of the alleged thief as he tries to cross the road.
A Reiss shop assistant can be seen tussling with the assailant, dressed in denim jeans and a black hoodie, as she appears to retrieve the stolen shirts while Mark keeps his arms locked around him.
After exchanging a few words, Mark lets go of the suspected shoplifter, who proceeds to pick up an object from the ground and launches it at the pair as they walk off.
Mark says he apprehended the ‘agitated’ shoplifter with a ‘bear hug’ after chasing him down the street because he had fears that the man was a threat to the public.
The tutor said he promptly took the ten-year-old home to his mother and explained to her what had happened.
He said she was initially ‘fine’ about the situation and laughed it off, but a few days later he received a ‘devastating’ call from the family’s personal assistant terminating his employment.
Mark K, 32, was ‘gutted’ after being fired for trying to prevent a shoplifter getting away
The children’s tutor served as a soldier in the British Army for five years between 2007 and 2012
‘She was fine about it. She didn’t ask any questions and she had a bit of a laugh about it,’ the 32-year-old explained.
‘It was only a couple days after, in the evening, that I was told it was a problem and then I got sacked on the spot.’
Mark maintains that he acted in the child’s best interests and said he is ‘gutted’ by the outcome.
Mark initially ran after the man suspected of shoplifting and stopped him in his tracks
With the aid of an store assistant from Reiss, the pair managed to take back the items that had been stolen
He explained that the man on a getaway was at risk of causing a ‘fatal’ accident. ‘As soon as we were in the entrance at Reiss, the robber came out and so did the employee who was pursuing him,’ Mark said.
‘The thief went around me and the child. It all happened so fast. He was making his way down the street.
‘There was nowhere [for him] to cross on the road. There were shops on one side and a wall on the other side so, potentially, with oncoming traffic, there could have been a fatal accident.’
Mark, who went on two tours of Afghanistan during his military career, told the child to stay put while he chased after the robber.
He added: ‘I thought the best course of action was to stop the robber and that the shop assistant would retrieve the things and that he wouldn’t be a further threat.
‘I did a quick recce to check around to see there were no further threats. It all happened really quickly.’
The now-tutor from Yorkshire claimed that he kept the child he was looking after in his eyesight while he chased the man down the street and restrained him.
‘When the robber came past me, I wasn’t sure what was going on but then it became apparent to me that something wasn’t right,’ he said.
‘He was very agitated, very angry, using abusive language. I deemed him to be a threat.
‘I was concerned about the well-being of the child and the safety of the general public.
‘If he had run back, he could have easily just stabbed the shop assistant and if that happened then he’d be closer to the child as well.
‘I would have wanted him to be as far away from that as possible.’
Mark was left with a bruised forearm and the thief also stamped on his foot, which has only recently healed after he broke it in October 2020.
Mark, who suffered injuries during the altercation, feared that the alleged shoplifter was a ‘threat to the public’
He also suffered bruising on his forearm (pictured) after chasing the man down Hampstead High Street while keeping the ten-year-old within his eyesight
He said: ‘I didn’t even pin him down, my priority was the safety of the child.
‘I felt it was really an unlucky situation to be in because I didn’t ask for any of it and I did what I thought was the right thing and I got sacked for it.’
The tutor claims he was let go without any severance pay and has since launched a GoFundMe page which has raised £6,595 towards his living expenses and rehabilitation.
He added: ‘It’s not a situation that I was planning for, it’s not something I expected.
‘It just happened and I thought I’d put a fundraiser out there and see if people could help.
According to Mark, the loss of his job has come at the worst possible time as Covid and the war in Ukraine has made work hard to come by because he typically tutors children from affluent foreign families who are living in London.
He said: ‘Hopefully I can find something in the not-too-distant future. I’m disappointed it happened but also glad everyone was OK.’
Police confirmed that they received a report of an assault on Hampstead High St.
A spokesperson for the Met said: ‘Police were called at 11:04hrs on Monday, 1 August to reports of an assault that took place at a commercial property in Hampstead High Street, NW3.
‘The incident happened on Tuesday, 26 July while the victim, aged in his 30s, was detaining a suspected shoplifter.
‘No arrests have been made. Enquiries continue.’