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Keith store owner recounts fighting off hammer-wielding thief during break-in gone wrong

By Ewan Malcolm

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A MORAY shop owner says she is still "shaken up" two months on from fighting off a hammer-wielding thief during a break-in gone wrong.

Diane and Munish Tandon fought off the intruder last year.
Diane and Munish Tandon fought off the intruder last year.

Diane Tandon, who runs the Premier Convenience Store in Keith alongside her husband Munish Tandon, was woken up by a loud bang at around 11pm on December 20 last year.

Munish checked the store's CCTV to make sure everything was ok but was alarmed to find an unknown figure inside the shop.

Diane and Munish quickly made their way to the shop from their flat above to confront the intruder.

"It was just total adrenaline," Diane said.

"He was trying to take two tills but they were all wired up so he was really struggling with that.

"We caught him at the door trying to get them out but it quickly turned into a scuffle.

"He started attacking us at that point with a hammer and screwdrivers and he started stabbing us and hitting us.

"But between myself and my husband we managed to get him onto the floor.

"We were shaken up. My husband had hammer marks all over his body, screwdriver stab marks and I had a few marks as well but he was a lot worse off than me."

The thief, later identified as Graham Elrick (38), struggled on the floor while Diane and Munish held him down waiting for the police to arrive.

Their young children, who were just four and seven years old at the time, remained just a few yards away on the floor above.

"It took the police 17 minutes to arrive," Diane said.

"We were struggling and holding him down for the entire time.

"We were fighting as much as we could to keep him down because he was fighting as much as he could to get up.

"We had our kids up the stairs. For them to hear all of that really isn't nice.

"You have no idea how long those 17 minutes felt. It felt like hours."

Elrick admitted theft by housebreaking, attempted theft by housebreaking, assault to injury and assault at Inverness Sheriff Court.

He was jailed for three years for the incident, which also included a break-in at the Nickel and Dime hardware store in Keith just two weeks prior to his run in with Diane and Munish.

But the couple are still taking steps to improve the shop's security to give them peace of mind.

"I hate being in the shop when I'm alone now," Diane said.

"I never used to feel that way. I felt safe.

"It's slightly easier now but we're upping our security purely because idiots like this think they can just come in and please themselves.

"We've got extra security cameras and we're getting quotes on shutters for the doors.

"We didn't get any compensation but the whole incident probably cost us in excess of £2500 not to mention the mental side of things.

"We have to deal with that, not him."

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