Police praise quick thinking cab driver for helping to catch a prolific thief in Sunderland



Detectives for Northumbria Police have praised an alert taxi driver who spotted a man trying to break into a shop, which led to the offender being put behind bars.


Alan Clarke, 45, attempted to break into the McColl’s store on Park Lane in Sunderland shortly before midnight on 8 September 2019.

CCTV cameras caught Clarke loitering outside the store, which was closed, before hacking at the window with a brick in a bid to gain access.

But after a taxi driver who was parked nearby spotted Clarke’s criminality, he picked up the phone and rang police. Officers were quickly deployed to the area and subsequently detained the suspect and brought him into custody.

(Alan Clarke)


Now Clarke, of no fixed abode, has been convicted of attempted burglary after admitting the offence before Magistrates in South Tyneside.


He was jailed for 10 weeks and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £122.


After seeing Clarke put behind bars, Detective Constable Alex Hadwin, who works in Northumbria Police Southern Burglary Team, praised the taxi driver who “did the right thing”.


“Alan Clarke is a prolific offender who took the law into his own hands in an attempt to get hold of anything he could,” Det Con Hadwin said.


“This type of behaviour is unacceptable, and especially at a time when the city is really pulling together as we tackle the spread of Covid-19, it’s vitally important that the public know we’re still working around the clock to detect and disrupt crime, identify offenders and bring burglars to justice.


“I would particularly like to thank the taxi driver who was working in the area and saw something was not quite right. It would have been very easy for him to ignore what he had seen and drive away – but by picking up the phone, he helped us put a selfish burglar behind bars.


“This case proves once again that the public can be our eyes and ears – and I would always encourage anybody who sees a crime being committed, or becomes suspicious of anyone in their community, to get in touch with us.


“We will never tire of putting individuals like Clarke before the courts, and we will not apologise for our zero-tolerance approach towards burglary. Over the coming weeks, as ever, we’ll be doing all we can to make sure anybody who commits crime is dealt with swiftly and robustly.”


Image credit: Northumbria Police

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