Bikers grabbed a pickpocket by his neck after he tried to steal a wallet from a veteran who was selling poppies.
Members of the Oxleather Motorcycle Club performed a citizens arrest on Steven Norman, 43, after he tried to rob the pensioner in Stafford, West Midlands, on Saturday.
A dramatic Facebook live video shows the bikers restraining the thief in a headlock as they waited for police to arrive in the square on Remembrance weekend.
Former RAF serviceman Martin Burrows, who filmed the incident, said Norman had been watching the victim from a hotel before he struck.
He said: “Norman followed the victim up the high street towards us because that's where he was coming. All of a sudden we hear a shout from a girl shouting, 'stop, thief!'
“He turned and ran in the wrong direction, straight into the Oxleather Motorcycle Club, which probably wasn't the cleverest escape plan.
“As shown in the video, they grabbed hold of him. I originally went up to him and gave him some home truths about what he's done and reflect on it.”
Mr Burrows said he filmed the incident to protect veterans in the area and expose thieves.
He added: “'The victim is well known in the area and within the Poppy Appeal.
“He dishes out the boxes of poppies to the shops in Staffordshire. He's an Irishman, very, very funny, very good sense of humour.”
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Norman, of no fixed address, admitted theft at Stafford magistrates' court on Monday.
He was spared jail and instead handed an £80 fine and ordered to pay a £32 victim surcharge and £135 court costs.
RAF veteran Terry Williams, who also stepped in to help, was angry that Norman received no jail time.
“The sentence is pathetic,” he said. “I believe he should have been locked up until after Christmas.”
Mr Williams added: “If he tries it again, he'll be taken down. If someone is doing bad stuff to good people then we will stop them.”
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “Steven Norman, 43, was charged with attempted theft and remanded in police custody. He appeared at magistrates’ court on Monday morning.
“We're grateful to all who assisted with the investigation.”
Stafford’s Oxleather Motorcycling Club, which also includes veterans, visits the local square every year during Remembrance weekend to raise money for the Staffordshire Poppy Appeal.