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Window cleaners tell how they foiled bank robbery

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TWO window cleaners have described how they foiled an attempted bank stick-up before catching the would-be robber as he tried to escape on his mountain bike. James Rowley and Daniel Sandholm were on their way home from work just before 3pm on Wednesday and pulled over in Coulsdon for James to go into to visit Lloyds Bank in Brighton Road. But their routine was shattered when a man strode into the bank and ordered the cashier to hand over money, threatening her with a gun that turned out to be a fake. Mr Rowley, 34, of Caterham, was paying in money at the time and recalls: "A guy walked in with a crash helmet on. He held up a gun and demanded the cashier put the money in. "I turned around and told him to f*** off . "He was saying, 'I am going to shoot through the glass, I am going to shoot you through the glass.' "I told him he was a prick and to go f*** himself. Then he went towards the door and was pretending there was someone else outside." Mr Rowley said he then grabbed a fire extinguisher from inside the bank and chased out the suspect who started pedalling up Station Approach Road on a mountain bike. He continued: "I was thinking there is probably a getaway car outside, not a bike, so I was going to throw the extinguisher at the car. "I was running after him and chased him up the road. I threw the fire extinguisher at him and knocked him off his bike and then he ran at me with the crash helmet." Father-of-two Mr Rowley was knocked to the ground and Mr Sandholm, who had been waiting in the van, took up the chase. Mr Sandholm, 23, of Purley, said: "I heard some shouting when I was sitting in the van and then I saw James chasing him. "He whacked James around the back of his head with the helmet and then James fell to the ground as I was running up. It was quite nasty. "Then I chased the guy down towards Brighton Road. I grabbed him and pushed him up by the boarding [at the flats development] and we held him there until police came. "He was trying to struggle but when I caught him to be fair he was struggling a little bit at first afterwards he just sort of waited with me." Mr Sandholm, who works for Mr Rowley, said police arrived before the would-be robber was taken away to hospital in an ambulance after complaining of breathing difficulties. Mr Rowley himself was due to see a doctor on Thursday morning to check his head after his fall. He added: "I felt sorry for the cashier because she was an old woman. I would do it again if it happened in front of me. "The police were very happy with what I had done. They said they had never known anyone to stop an armed robbery and catch the suspect at the same time." The London Ambulance Service confirmed its staff had attended and treated a man, reported to be in his forties, who was taken to Croydon University Hospital. A police spokesman confirmed police officers were called at around 2.40pm to reports of an attempted robbery at a bank in Brighton Road. He added: "Police attended and a 46-year-old man, who had been detained by a member of the public, was arrested nearby on suspicion of attempted robbery. "Officers also recovered an imitation firearm nearby." The 46-year-old was in police custody at the time of writing late Thursday morning. Detectives from the Met's Flying Squad are investigating. Enquiries continue.

Window cleaners tell how they foiled bank robbery


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