Shopkeeper chases would-be robbers from Dagenham newsagents
PUBLISHED: 12:39 03 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:04 03 September 2015
A shopkeeper who fought off two would-be robbers from her store has told of the moment that she thought her life was in danger.
Brave Chithrangani Elakumar chased the pair down the street after they threatened her with a metal bar. The 35-year-old was alone in her newsagents in Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, when the two young males entered the shop at about 4pm.
“They looked funny, the way they were moving – I thought they were going to nick something from the shop floor,” explained Chithrangani, who has witnessed frequent shoplifting at C E K Food & Wine since she took on the shop with her husband, Chandrakumar, 13 years ago.
But the pair disappeared from view and the teenage boy returned with a scarf wrapped around his face and threatened her.
“He came behind the till with a metal bar, pushed me down and said to open the till,” she recalled.
“I really panicked. There’s a door leading to upstairs where my husband and two children were and I was screaming for them to come down but the older man closed it off so they couldn’t hear me.
“In that moment I knew my husband wouldn’t come down, and I realised I had to save myself.”
Chithrangani held her attacker’s hands down and wrestled the metal bar from him.
“He wanted to push me back down but I wouldn’t let him,” she said. “They wanted to run away, but I took the metal bar and chased them down the road, onto the corner.”
The fearless pursuer lost sight of the pair and called the police.
The older of the pair, 20-year-old Troy Grindley, fled into a nearby shed but was locked there by its owner until the police arrived and arrested him.
Grindley was sentenced to three-and-a-half-years at Snaresbrook Crown Court last month, after pleading guilty to attempted robbery and possession of an offensive weapon during the incident on March 15.
His 15-year-old boy accomplice, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a three-year youth order, six month curfew and a 120-hour extended activity order on May 28.
Chithrangani is determined not to let the incident affect her.
“This is our life – we have to run the shop,” she said. “If you let them get away with it they’ll just keep doing it.”
“My children like rewinding the CCTV to see me fighting back – they think I’m a hero.”
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