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A poppy-wearing pensioner who foiled a raid on a jewellers has told how he used a "disabling move" he learnt in the forces to stop the sledgehammer-wielding burglar.

By Matthew Moore and Lucy Cockcroft
Last Updated: 7:36AM GMT 01 Nov 2008

The moment when pensioner William Grove foiled the robbery was caught on camera. Photo: TIM STEWART TSW

William Grove, 84, walked straight up to the hooded youth and tackled him as he tried to smash through a window.
He was the only person to intervene as the raid unfolded in front of a crowd of over 50 shoppers and office workers on a busy London high street.
The robber was so stunned when Mr Grove tore off his balaclava that he and his accomplice dropped their weapons and fled.
But despite his brave actions, Mr Grove, who served with the RAF during the Second World War, insisted he was not a hero.
He said: "My reaction was natural and instinctive, you can't have this sort of thing going on.
"I'm not a hero just a responsible citizen, a hero is somebody who jumps into the Thames to rescue a drowning child. My part was so small, it was all over in three minutes. Whether I would do it again next time I don't know, but this hasn't put me off.
"I grabbed on to what I thought was the top of his head with the intention of holding him until someone could come and help me. It's a traditional disabling move that was taught to us all in the forces. At the point where I intervened the man had his hand through a small hole in the broken glass. He had his back to me so I knew I was in minimal danger."
The jewellers, Ernest Jones in Richmond, south-west London, were so grateful to Mr Grove that they have offered to give him a Rolex watch as a thank-you.
But the widower, who would have been celebrating his 38th wedding anniversary on Friday, said he would not accept the gift.
He said: "I would pass it on to charity, and that's a piece of advice you can give to Jonathan Ross.
"Young people aren't as bad as they are made out to be. It had been built up now that everyone is carrying a knife, it's just not true."
Eye-witnesses told how Mr Grove showed "amazing guts" risking his life as he tackled the raider.
He stepped in as the two attackers pounded the reinforced glass windows of Ernest Jones broad daylight.
Nick Thompson, a 35-year-old technician who works in an office opposite the shop, said: "Some girls in the office heard a commotion and called everyone over to the window.
"There were two hooded guys having a real go at the window of the jewellers with sledgehammers. The glass must have been tougher than they thought because it took them a good 20 seconds to break through.
"It was busy day on the high street and there were crowds of shoppers watching.
"But these days people don't want to have a go in case a robber has a weapon. Here, you could see that there were two robbers holding big sledgehammers.
"Everyone was standing back when this old guy at the bus stop decided he was not just going to stand there and watch.
"He must have been around 80. He went over and started flapping at one of the robbers. He grabbed him from behind around his shoulders and managed to pull his balaclava off his face.
"If he had hit the old man with the sledgehammer, he could easily have killed him. The old man risked his life against someone much younger and bigger. He is a hero."
A Scotland Yard spokesman said that the suspects fled on foot before climbing into a silver car, which sped off in the direction of Richmond's magistrates' court.
Witnesses said Mr Grove shouted "I've got your DNA" as he grabbed the robber's balaclava.
Detective Inspector David Wadsworth said the suspects were black men, believed to be aged 18 to 20.
He appealed for any onlookers who took pictures on their mobile phones to come forward.
Police said the suspects grabbed one watch before fleeing on foot and then getting in a silver "Vauxhall-type" car which may have been driven by a third man. Passers-by chased the car and noted down the number plate.
Tony O'Neill, caretaker at the development where Mr Grove lives, said: "He is a great guy but very modest."
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