A BAND of have-a-go heroes scaled fences and raced through gardens in pursuit of a champion welterweight boxer who stole a pensioner's handbag.
The group chased Travis Kaute through the streets of Penzance for half an hour after he snatched the bag and purse from a 74-year-old woman.
And despite their chase leading to Kaute's arrest by police a short time later, the part-time fisherman and former Olympic boxing hopeful was then released on police bail to commit three burglaries within the next few days.
Kaute, of St John's Court, Wood Street, Penzance, appeared before Truro magistrates, where he was jailed for 24 weeks.
His first offence was to snatch a bag off an elderly pensioner as she walked along Mennaye Road last Tuesday.
Another woman, who was walking nearby, heard the victim's screams and gave chase as soon as she realised what had happened.
"I wasn't scared; I just thought, 'you're not getting away with it'," said the brave woman, who has asked not to be named.
As the chase began, she spotted two Cory Environmental workers, Ray Stevens and Martin Weeks, who were emptying bins along the promenade and called for help.
"Me and Martin chased him while Ray got in his van and tried to block his escape," said the woman.
The race was then on to catch the thief, with the public-spirited pair running through gardens and scaling fences.
As she ran after Kaute, the woman badly cut her arm and shredded her clothes on a wall but still kept up the chase.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Martin, a loader with Cory, came face to face with the suspect: "I grabbed hold of him and he said, 'if you don't let me go I'm going to have you with a knife' so I let him go but kept chasing," he said. "You don't think about being scared; he'd taken an old lady's bag so I had to chase him. I'd do it again."
"I just kept thinking about the lady and I hope she feels a bit safer now," said Kaute's female pursuer. "There are some bad people out there but I hope this shows her there are more good people around."
After a half-hour chase around Penzance's waterfront, the valiant trio finally lost sight of Kaute and the police were called in to help.
The 25-year-old was arrested a short time later; no knife was found in his possession. But after being questioned, he was given police bail and four days later, he was offending again.
In the early hours of March 9 he and another man broke into a hairdresser's, then made a large hole in a wall to get into Clarendon Imports next door. Cash taken from the till amounted to £380 and they caused £2,000 damage to the properties.
They planned to split the property the following day, but the other man fell several feet through the hole they had made, suffering serious injuries and was taken to hospital.
In court, Kaute pleaded guilty to being concerned with another man in burglary at Clarendon Imports in Market Jew Street, Penzance, burglary at a hairdresser's next door, and asked for burglary at Costcutter in Market Jew Street to be taken into account.
Terry Eastwood, speaking for the defendant, who has several previous convictions including the theft of £4,000 from the former Blue Snappa restaurant in Penzance, said Kaute had been a school boxing champion and in 2011 became amateur welterweight champion for Devon and Cornwall.
Working with Camborne Amateur Boxing Club he had plans to turn professional at the end of this year, he said.
The magistrates told Kaute that £70 seized from him on his arrest was to be paid to the elderly lady as compensation.
Detective Constable Yvan Clarke said: "If it weren't for these three members of the public we probably wouldn't have been able to identify him. He was released on bail because we couldn't prove he had done the bag snatch until we had the forensic evidence. If we had enough to charge him we would have kept him in. We have to work within the framework of the law which is innocent until proven guilty and he hadn't been proved guilty."