Swing ball pole v screwdriver, knife and crowbar video

ERIN TASKER/STUFF.CO.NZ

Alex So'oialo says he turned 'beast' after hearing vandals smash his neighbour's car windscreen.

Armed with a pole from a swing ball set, Alex So'oialo chased down suspected vandals he thought had just smashed the windscreen of his neighbour's car.

It wasn't until after the Ashburton man had caught them, held them and police had arrived, that he told the youngsters to empty their pockets and realised he was probably a lucky man. Between them, the trio had a screwdriver, knife and a crowbar.

So'oialo was running on adrenaline, and he was mad. A couple of weeks ago, the Bridge Street home So'oialo shares with his partner Helen McIntosh and their 11-year-old daughter was vandalised. Their car was egged, plants were pulled out of their garden and their letter box was pulled from the ground, concrete base and all.

Alex So'oialo gave chase armed with a swing-ball pole after offenders smashed a neighbour's car windscreen.
Erin Tasker/Fairfax NZ

Alex So'oialo gave chase armed with a swing-ball pole after offenders smashed a neighbour's car windscreen.

Since then, the family has been on edge, so So'oialo was still up watching television at 12.30am on Monday when he heard a loud bang outside followed by footsteps. He went outside to investigate and saw three people walking down the street. He then saw the front windscreen of his neighbour's car smashed, and decided to act.

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After running back inside and finding something to arm himself with - the pole from his daughter's swing-ball set - he sprinted after the people he'd seen. He could see one of them near the Netherby Four Square on the corner of Bridge Street and Chalmers Avenue, but instead set off after the two others, figuring it was better to catch two than one.

When the suspected offenders headed down a side street So'oialo called his brother, a security guard who happened to live in that direction, hoping he'd be able to cut them off.

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The duo turned into Brucefield Avenue, and So'oialo continued chasing, calling out to them to stop. They did stop, and So'oialo said he collared one of them and issued a few threats, before making them sit down on the footpath and interrogating them.

"One of them was doing the whole Harry Potter invisible cloak on me, like, if I walk really slowly maybe he won't notice me," So'oialo said.

So'oialo's brother arrived, and at first the duo denied any knowledge of the smashed windscreen.

"I did a full on investigation, I got all three of their full names and where they lived," So'oialo said.

Having just spoken to McIntosh, the police then called So'oialo for an update on his cellphone, moments before the first police car arrived. Within five minutes another police officer appeared, walking down William Street, with the third offender. The three - all aged 17 and under - were arrested.

"The cop was like, 'that's very impressive, you should be a cop'," So'oialo said.

So'oialo said he didn't give a second thought to his own safety.

"As soon as I saw them I just went into beast mode."

Ashburton Police senior sergeant Scott Banfield praised So'oialo's actions. He said while the best thing to do was to call 111, police couldn't always get somewhere straight away.

"Every member of the public is entitled to use reasonable force to apprehend an offender and hold on to them until the police get there," he said.

He said it was a good example of the community showing they won't tolerate such behaviour in their neighbourhood, but taking matters into your own hands wasn't always the answer as offenders often tended to arm themselves.

"I guess it's down to the individual capabilities of the person, and people have to weigh up the risk," Banfield said.

"If it was my house, I'd be doing what that person did."

 - Stuff

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