When a restaurant owner found two teenage yobs raiding his beer cellar, he chased them and held them while his staff dialled 999.
Sal Miah assumed police would commend him for catching the young criminals.
But when officers arrived, they arrested 35-year-old Mr Miah on suspicion of assault and battery.
Held: Sal Miah spent five hours in a police cell after he chased down two youths who had broken into his cellar
The married father-of-five spent five hours in a police cell and had his DNA, fingerprints and police mugshot taken.
Mr Miah, who has run the Raj Poot restaurant in Crowborough, East Sussex, for 14 years, was finally released at 4am after receiving a caution for assault and battery, which will stay on his record for five years.
He said: 'The system is a joke. How can a man who tries to prevent a crime in progress end up being the criminal?
'People are living in fear of these kind of yobs but when you do take a stand and try and defend your home or your business you end up in trouble.
'It's the wrong way round. These boys told the police I had punched them and they believed them.
'This country is getting worse. You see these gangs tormenting people and they are just getting away with it. But who was looking out for my interests?
'This has been an unbelievable stress and strain on my family. The uncle of one of the boys even came to the restaurant making threats that he was going to smash it up and burn it down.
'But when I reported that the police said they couldn't find him.'
Mr Miah's ordeal began a fortnight ago when he heard the teenagers trying to smash their way into the beer cellar.
They fled, but Mr Miah pursued them and managed to grab them and bring them back to the restaurant, where he sat them down by the bar.
He told his diners not to worry and instructed staff to call the police.
But as he did so a large group of the teenagers' friends assembled outside and started to kick the door in.
Fearing for the safety of his customers, Mr Miah locked the door to prevent the 'intimidating' youths getting in, he said.
He also went outside to stop them from breaking his windows and pushed several of them away.
But when the police arrived the youths accused Mr Miah of punching them and he was arrested.
As officers put him in the back of a patrol car, he said the laughing yobs hurled abuse and mocked him with shouts of 'You're nicked'. Mr Miah, who has no previous convictions, said: 'I could not believe it.
' I had stopped a crime from happening and even delivered the suspects to police on a plate.'
Sussex police said Mr Miah should have 'observed from a safe distance' before dialling 999.
The spokesman said: 'On no account should any attempt at aggression be made as this could easily escalate into violence.'
A boy of 13 was later arrested and charged with burglary with intent.
Read more: Curry house owner foils burglary... and then HE'S thrown in cell when yobs complain | Mail Online