Brave team catch prolific burglar

He was a prolific burglar who repeatedly evaded police and caused misery to scores of people over 25 years. But Andrew Blyth's criminal career came crashing down after he came face to face with Swaffham dad Steve Choppen, his son and two of his friends.

He was a prolific burglar who repeatedly evaded police and caused misery to scores of people over 25 years.

But Andrew Blyth's criminal career came crashing down after he came face to face with Swaffham dad Steve Choppen, 45, his son Ashley, 18, and two of his friends Lee Atkins, 18, and Luke Holdsworth, 20.

The group chased and cornered Blyth - despite him threatening them with CS spray - after they found him trying to break into a neighbour's house in Swaffham in October last year.

With Blyth in custody, detectives pieced together forensic information that linked him to a string of burglaries and Blyth, of Norwich, was sentenced to six years' jail in March this year.

The quartet were recognised for their bravery on Tuesday evening when they were presented with £300 each by Earl Romney, the High Sheriff of Norfolk, at a ceremony in Swaffham.

Mr Choppen said it had been a case of the community fighting back, as the whole Filby Road estate had quickly mobilised to help pin Blyth down in a garden.

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He said: “My wife saw a bloke in a neighbour's garden with a ladder, I went out through the back garden to chase him out the front where my son and his two friends were waiting.

“He had a CS canister in his hand and said to them 'If you want some of this you can have it.'”

Blyth then turned and ran off into the estate while Luke pursued him and Ashley rounded up more help from his friends who trapped Blyth in a garden until the police arrived.

Mr Choppen said: “These were lads aged 16-18 turning out to do something good for the community; it's very different to the bad press they usually get.

“It's something you don't think about at the time, it's just the anger at seeing somebody breaking into your neighbour's home. There are a lot of old people around here and you don't want them frightened.

“I'm glad we helped get him off the streets and that he got the sentence he deserved.”

Charles Holloway, Under Sheriff of Norfolk, said: “This was a great achievement in helping the authorities to catch somebody who deserves to be put away.

“What they did was a brilliant act of bravery. If nobody was ever willing to put themselves at risk, then nothing would ever happen.”

The quartet will also receive a certificate of commendation from Norfolk police for their bravery.

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