Man makes citizens' arrest on car thieves

PUBLISHED: 12:42 26 July 2007 | UPDATED: 12:39 04 May 2010

From left, David Clifton, Chris Wright and Josh Clifton 	Photo: HELEN DRAKE.

From left, David Clifton, Chris Wright and Josh Clifton Photo: HELEN DRAKE.

AN Ely man chased four teenagers who stole his car and made a citizens arrest, even after one of them pulled a knife on his son. David Clifton, of Debden Green, woke in the early hours of Monday morning to find a gang of four youths stealing his Mitsubis

AN Ely man chased four teenagers who stole his car and made a citizens' arrest, even after one of them pulled a knife on his son.

David Clifton, of Debden Green, woke in the early hours of Monday morning to find a gang of four youths stealing his Mitsubishi four-wheel-drive, which was parked outside his home.

Mr Clifton, aged 56, and his two sons drove around for two hours and discovered the gang at Little Ouse near Downham Market. The trio saw smoke in the distance, and when they arrived on the scene, they found another car on fire, two of the teenagers were hiding up a tree and two had run away.

Even though one of Mr Clifton's sons was threatened with a knife, they made a citizens' arrest and waited for police to arrive.

Mr Clifton, a building surveyor, who had a van and tools stolen in Cambridge last year, said: "I want to send out a message to people who think that they can intimidate and steal. I'm not having it and they will be caught. I'm not going to sit back and wait for the police to act, I've taken the law into my own hands and I won't think twice about doing it again. I think I speak for people all over Ely when I say that we've had enough of this."

Mr Clifton's dog woke him at around 3.15am. He called the police, woke his sons Josh, 20, and Matt, 18, and set off in a Rover sports car.

One of his sons called a workmate and eventually they found the jeep on the A10 Witchford roundabout at 3.45am.

Mr Clifton said: "Two of them hid up a tree. They came down and didn't give us any trouble. I guess they were only about 17 and my sons are big lads."

One of Mr Clifton's sons chased the other two across a field, but returned when one pulled out a knife.

Police arrived at around 5.30am and arrested the two detained boys.

Mr Clifton said: "I didn't think about vigilantism at the time, I just wanted to get my vehicle back. The jeep is a complete write-off now, but my insurance will cover it."

A police spokesman said: "Mr Clifton should be commended for his bravery in carrying out these citizen's arrests. But we must warn members of the public that they may place themselves in danger by taking these actions. Officers have extensive training and if possible, please allow police to carry out arrests."

# Two boys, one 17, and one 15, were arrested and bailed to Parkside Police Station on August 1.

Anyone with information about the two boys who escaped should contact Cambridgeshire police on 0845 4564564 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 55511.

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