‘I am no hero’, says waiter who tackled Selfridges raider

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Two of six suspects in smash-and-grab robbery are captured as getaway moped crashes nearby

A waiter who tackled a member of an axe-wielding, burka-clad gang after a smash-and-grab raid at Selfridges has denied being a hero – saying he did “what any human being would do”.

Mohamed Hussein, who works in a pizza restaurant, ran out and pinned down one of the robbers near the department store in Oxford Street in central London.

The 29-year-old bodybuilder and law student, described as a “Vin Diesel action hero,” held the man with the help of others nearby. Yesterday, he said: “I feel confident anyone would do this. I am no hero.”

Scotland Yard said a group of six men, all dressed in burkas, entered the store at about 8.30pm, just before closing time on Thursday. Witnesses said it appeared the men had disguised themselves as rich Arab women, with some carrying designer handbags. They mingled with hundreds of shoppers before producing axes and smashing their way into display cabinets, stuffing dozens of watches worth tens of thousands of pounds into bags. They fled and jumped on to at least three waiting motorcycles.

Anuj Dabeesingh, 22, a student from Uxbridge, who was shopping in the menswear section on the first floor, said: “I saw four men completely in burkas, posing as women carrying women’s handbags. At first I thought it was a shot, a spray of glass shattering, breaking – we heard that and people were just running about.

“I saw a staff member lying on the ground and then we saw four men running, trying to get away. That all happened in under a minute.”

Two of the raiders got on to a moped but it crashed yards from Selfridges. One, dressed in a burka, struggled to rise after breaking his leg and the other, in a bike helmet, was wrestled to the ground by Mr Hussein.

Matthew Carrozo, 28, a visual marketing manager from east London, who had been having a drink near where the moped crashed, said: “All of a sudden this guy who looks like Vin Diesel came out and pinned the guy in the bike helmet to the ground. He struggled but people started pouncing on this guy.

“They held him down for about 10 minutes until the police arrived.There were about six or seven really expensive watches strewn across the road and dozens in the duffle bag which had come open a bit.”

Scotland Yard praised the “brave and quick-thinking” people who tackled two members of the gang. One thief was being treated in hospital for a broken leg and the man cornered by Mr Hussein was being interviewed at a central London police station. Two other stolen motorcycles were found in the Paddington area.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Noyes, of the Flying Squad, said: “This was a brazen robbery and appears to have been well planned and thought through. Fortunately, no one was injured. The store was very busy and this will have been a shocking thing for people to witness.

“I would like to thank those members of the public who stepped in and detained our two suspects. Their quick thinking and brave actions have helped our investigation.”

Police appealed for anyone who witnessed the robbery to contact them.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine