Scissor-wielding shoplifter caught in dramatic chase through Alnwick

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Three men caught a scissor-wielding shoplifter who had stolen items from an Alnwick town-centre shop.

John Hope, Justin Mathews and Dennis Patton helped to apprehend Leanne Craggs after she fled the Boots store with a haul of pinched cosmetics last Wednesday morning.

The 37-year-old from Millfield, Sunderland, has pleaded guilty to assault, theft and threatening somebody with scissors and will be sentenced in January. Mr Hope, 68, from Alnwick, said that she stabbed him multiple times in the back of the hand, while Mr Mathews, 38, said she tried to bite him.

Describing the incident, Mr Hope, who is a retired policeman and used to own the town’s Penny Black, said: “I saw a member of staff from Boots chasing someone, who had two big bags full, across Alnwick Market Place.

“So I chased her across the Market Place and she ran across the road and nearly got knocked down by a car. She ran down St Michael’s Lane next to Turnbull’s and I caught up with her.

“She threatened to stab me if I didn’t get off her, but I didn’t take it seriously. She was strong and powerful and it took all my effort to hold onto her. Some fella gave me a hand, as did Justin, and then the police came.

“Afterwards, I noticed my hand was bleeding and I had five puncture wounds in the back of my hand. I thought it was from her nails, but I then realised that she had stabbed me with the scissors.”

Mr Mathews is director of Alnwick’s Hotspur Residential. He said: “I saw her run past my shop and a lady from Boots was following. I put two-and-two together.

“I could see John and another gentleman trying to apprehend her. She was aggressive, although I didn’t know at that time that she had a bladed weapon on her. I offered to help and I brought her down to the ground.”

Craggs was at the magistrates’ court in Bedlington last Thursday and indicated a guilty plea of threatening Mr Hope with scissors. She also admitted a charge of assault by beating against him.

She pleaded guilty to assault by beating on Mr Patton and assaulting Mr Mathews. She also admitted stealing 10 cosmetic items, to an unknown value, from the Boots store on Bondgate Within. She was kept in custody and will be sentenced next month.