Burglar caught by rugby-tackling student cop is jailed

A student officer has been praised for her bravery in downing a 6ft 4ins burglar with a rugby tackle as he tried fleeing a pensioner’s home.

PC Ali Smith – a new recruit who joined West Midlands Police 18 months ago – charged at prolific crook Christopher Arnold moments after seeing him leap from the first floor window of a house in Sutton Coldfield and crash through the conservatory.

The 25-year-old former English teacher was dragged along an alleyway by hulking Arnold – who at nearly 16 stone is twice PC Smith’s weight – as he tried in vain to escape her clutches.

PC Ali Smith - the student officer rugby tackled a burglar who's now been jailed

PC Ali Smith: the student officer rugby tackled a burglar who’s now been jailed

She managed to pull him to the ground and keep him pinned down until colleagues – who’d responded to calls of a break-in at 5.45pm on 22 December in Chester Road North – ran to her aid and detained the 43-year-old.

He was searched and found with gold jewellery and a silver serving plate swiped from the 61-year-old woman’s house, two kinder egg plastic capsules filled with crack cocaine.

Arnold, from Kilburn Road in Kingstanding, went on to be charged with burglary and at Birmingham Crown Court on 24 January he was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

PC Smith is one of hundreds of student officers currently gaining experience with response and neighbourhood units across the West Midlands before graduating to become fully-fledged officers.

She recalled:

“We were in the briefing room preparing to start a 6pm to 4am shift when news of the burglary came across our radios and there was an ‘all out’ call for anyone nearby to attend.

“We blue-lighted to the scene and I made for an alleyway at the back of the house that I suspected the offender might use to escape.

Burglar Chris Arnold was jailed for two-and-a-half years

Burglar Chris Arnold was jailed for two-and-a-half years

“A tall man in a khaki jacket wearing gardening gloves ran towards me; he tried dodging me but I grabbed him with both arms. Due to his size over my petite eight stone he managed to run some distance with me clinging to him.

“We eventually hit the deck; he was struggling and trying to break free but I was able to hold him on the ground before other officers arrived to help out. 

“There was no way I was letting go – and it’s great to hear he’s now been jailed and out of harm’s way.”

All West Midlands Police student officers must complete a two-year probation period – and demonstrate competence in key policing areas – before becoming Police Constables.

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