'Shakespeare's ghost' gives chase as robbers target Stratford jewellery shop
Three masked raiders were confronted by a street performer dressed as Shakespeare's ghost after targeting a jeweller's yards from the Bard's birthplace.
John Jarvis, 62, forced one of the robbers to the floor by taking a swipe at his legs with a garlanded walking stick as they fled down an alleyway in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
Another bystander reportedly hurled a chair at the offenders, who used a crowbar and sledgehammers to smash a window containing a display of watches.
Mr Jarvis, who was entertaining tourists when the raiders struck at about 11am on Wednesday, told the Press Association: "I was stood on my box doing my show and three chaps came running down the alley with big hammers.
"They gave the jeweller's (window) a right old bashing and they came running back towards me, one of them swinging a crowbar - so I took a swing at him."
One of the raiders then went down after losing his balance, Mr Jarvis said, before the gang escaped from the immediate area despite another bystander giving chase.
Asked what he thought was going through the offenders' minds as they were confronted by someone dressed as a ghost, the part-time performer, a former hospital worker, joked: "It was a frightening experience I should imagine.
"I can imagine them telling the police in interview there was a ghost chasing them and they must have searched their house for drugs."
Mr Jarvis also expressed surprise that the raiders had targeted one of the busiest streets in England, adding: "There were tourists and kids and he ran within feet of people having coffee and scones.
"There were coach-loads of people about."
No one at the store, Christopher Poel Jewellery, was injured during the raid and the offenders did not gain entry to the premises.
Hannah Poel, who was working in the family-owned shop, described the raid as scary, saying: "When I saw that they were masked and they were trying to get in it was so surreal. I was in tears and I was ringing the police.
"We are just looking at the stock to see what they have taken."
The shop in Meer Street is expected to reopen on Thursday.
A police spokesman said: "It is believed that three men attempted to break the glass windows to the property before leaving the area on foot in the direction of Henley Street.
"Police officers were deployed to the area, as was the police helicopter, and two men, aged 19 and 28, have been arrested on suspicion of robbery and are currently in police custody."