A BUNGLING thief thought he had got away with a €1,000 bracelet from a jeweller's -- but he didn't count on the staff being champion runners.
"He picked the wrong shop to rob, with two athletes in it," said Stephen Ralph (28) who designs custom-made engagement rings, but is also in training for the Dublin City Marathon.
Working alongside him was former footballer Bryan McCrystal (31), the current Irish triathlon champion, who races professionally around the world. Both men have also competed in Ironmen challenges involving racing, cycling and swimming.
They sprinted after a man -- who had been in Baldwin's jeweller's, Dundalk -- made off with the valuable bracelet.
Mr Ralph said the man had "seemed 100pc genuine, he knew he wanted a bracelet and he had a good look" at what was on display.
"He lifted this full bracelet, looked me in the eye and said, 'thank you', and ran out the door. He had a hard neck."
But Mr Ralph made a bolt for the door after him and grabbed the back wheel of the culprit's bicycle, so he couldn't pedal away.
Mr McCrystal had been serving another customer and ran out afterwards. "I asked him what the man had taken and saw him running up the street. I, instinctively, ran after him and caught him at the corner.
"I grabbed him by his coat, it was a big overcoat and told him to hand it over -- and he did."
Staff had already rung the gardai and they arrived on the scene within minutes and arrested the suspect.
Mr McCrystal is the third generation of jewellers in his family and is also known for his time as a footballer with Dundalk FC and Leeds Utd.
After football, his attention turned to triathlons, and he has competed in them across the world, from Lanzarote to South Africa.
"I race professionally around the globe and I am the triathlon national champion of Ireland, which I won this year," he said.
He said that in the current economic climate, "every sale is important and when somebody takes something without paying for it, it hurts".
A garda spokesman confirmed that gardai arrested a 36-year-old local man in Dundalk and a file is being prepared for the DPP in relation to the theft.