A Saffron Walden police officer has thanked members of the public who helped as he arrested a jewellery thief.

PC Ryan McNamara arrested 51-year-old James Happer as he ran away from Finery and Co jewellers in King Street, Saffron Walden.

Happer had stolen £30,970 gold and diamond earrings, rings and a bangle from a display cabinet.

Ryan says: "I want to thank the people who provided assistance as I was arresting Happer and helped to ensure that the man responsible for the burglary was held to account.

"One of the original principles of policing is that the police are the public and the public are the police and that was certainly the case on that day.

"My colleagues and I continue to provide high-visibility policing through foot patrols in Saffron Walden and other towns and villages across Uttlesford.

"However, Saffron Walden is a special place to me and it’s an absolute privilege and an honour to serve the good people who live and work here."

Happer, of Longcroft Rise, Loughton, had admitted at a previous court hearing to burglary and assaulting an emergency worker by beating.

On Thursday, June 6, Chelmsford Crown Court heard how PC McNamara was out on one of his regular foot patrols on March 7, 2024 when he heard shouts of "Stop! Thief!"

PC McNamara stepped in to arrest Happer as he tried to run past, pursued by a member of shop staff.

As Happer struggled, he punched PC McNamara in the face and tried to use the officer’s force-issued PAVA spray against him. However, PC McNamara was able to use the spray to incapacitate Happer.

Other members of the public also assisted at the scene and PC McNamara's colleagues arrived with a police van to take Happer to custody.

After the case, investigating officer PC Carl Wright, said it appeared Happer had travelled to Saffron Walden to target the jewellers.

He said: "This type of crime is rare in Saffron Walden, which is a safe town.

"Happer is a prolific offender who clearly didn’t want to be arrested. He offered violent resistance to PC McNamara, who was able to detain him safely with assistance from members of the public.


"They helped to stop him from getting away with £31,000 of high-value items which he would have been likely to sell on for a fraction of the price.

"Happer offered violent resistance but, thankfully, members of the public stepped in to assist PC McNamara so that he could be safely arrested and brought to justice."

Happer, who admitted burglary and assaulting a police officer, was given an 18-month jail term suspended for 18 months.

This includes a drug rehabilitation requirement for six months, a rehabilitation activity requirement for up to 25 days and 19 sessions in a thinking skills programme.