Episode 2 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 2

A look at innovative ways of catching criminals. Police set up a covert operation to catch laptop thieves, and there is a look at the people cheating death on level crossings.


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Transcript


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Thieves will steal our cars, our valuables,

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just about anything they can get their hands on.

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To cut down on crime and antisocial behaviour, the police

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are using new tactics, where the bad guys get caught in the act.

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They're launching covert operations...

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Keep pretending you're talking on the phone for a bit longer, OK, mate?

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..and setting clever traps...

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The laptop he's about to steal is equipped with a tracking device.

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..that deliver unsuspecting crooks...

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-Go, go, go!

-..right into their hands.

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And there are also ways that we, the public,

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and local businesses can fight back, with some tricks of our own.

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I weren't going to sit back and let them do this.

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I know what you look like and I know who you are.

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We've caught you and we're sending you down.

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So, anyone who's up to no good had better think twice.

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They might just get Caught Red Handed.

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Coming up today on Caught Red Handed...

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police go after a crook who's stolen a laptop

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that belongs to them.

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-Dan?

-Yep, that's the one.

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Also today in Nottingham,

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an opportunistic thief doesn't realise he's being filmed.

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I thought at this stage, "Great, I've got ya."

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And this driver leaves his mark on a parked car,

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but he doesn't leave a note.

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Sitting on a park bench in Eastbourne,

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drinking coffee with his laptop by his side,

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this man looks like any other member of the public,

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enjoying a quick break from the world.

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A few minutes later, he gets up to make a phone call.

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And then wanders off.

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Absent-mindedly leaving his laptop behind,

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completely unguarded.

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Careless, you might think,

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but it's not what it seems.

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This is all part of an undercover police sting operation.

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Watching is plainclothes PC, Dan Cloake.

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It's a waiting game now. We'll soon find out if it's been stolen or not.

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I'd be lying if I said it wasn't exciting.

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But...we'll see how it goes.

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Eastbourne isn't really a place you'd associate with crime,

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but it's rising.

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The increase in theft offences has gone up

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by probably 15% in the last 12 months.

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So to snare a thief,

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Dan and the plainclothes unit have specially prepared a bait laptop.

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The purpose of the operation is to prosecute people

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that are buying stolen goods from the thieves.

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By taking out one handler, we can remove possibly 10-50 crimes,

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and that means 10-50 less victims of crime.

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It's not just time and money we can lose when someone steals our laptop.

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It can be valuable data, such as government information

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or something very sentimental and totally irreplaceable.

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Joanne is a professional photographer

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and one day she got in late after photographing a wedding.

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What I do after every wedding is, I come home that evening and I back up,

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so I've got three copies.

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Safe, you might think.

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But while she slept upstairs,

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burglars broke in and stole her expensive laptop

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and photography equipment, as well as her vital storage drives.

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Initially, to be honest, I didn't think about myself.

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Um, the first thing that came to mind were the wedding pictures.

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You know, a couple, I'd spent a long time with them,

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as I always do, connecting with them, choosing special places on their day,

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taking time out to get the right shots.

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Those memories, which you cannot recapture, had gone.

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I spent the next three weeks sobbing my heart out

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because I'd lost wedding photos.

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Joanne has had to rebuild her business and now backs up her

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computer to an internet cloud storage system, for extra security.

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That's why PC Dan Cloake is keen for his bait laptop to be swiped -

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to stop future thefts of computers

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and the heartbreak personal data loss can bring.

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The team have concealed a tracking device inside the laptop that

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will enable them to follow it, should it fall into the wrong hands.

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Also, there is every opportunity do the right thing.

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There's a card with the apparent owner's contact details.

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Just so it's fair on those that don't intend to steal it.

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Dan and a fellow undercover officer will plant

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the laptop in a place that's known to attract would-be thieves.

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We'll leave it wherever the offending's been,

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and that's parks, cafes, on buses.

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As we saw earlier, the laptop's been left on a bench,

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but will it stay there?

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20 minutes later, Dan gets a call.

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Yeah, hi.

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INDISTINCT MALE VOICE

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Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

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A member of the public phones to say they've found his laptop.

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Dan arranges to meet them back in the park.

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I won't identify myself as a police officer, cos for all I know

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it could be a dishonest person that's testing the water.

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So I'll just thank them for their time and their honestly.

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No thief caught this time.

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Well, we'll put the laptop back out somewhere else,

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and it's almost like fishing.

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We need to cast our rod a couple of times before we get

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a successful hit.

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Next, they're going to leave it in a cafe.

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-See you later.

-The bait laptop will alert Dan when it's been moved

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and he can then track it on his own computer.

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But although theft figures are up in this town, Dan's about to

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find out that sometimes you can't even give something away.

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Soon after we deployed it,

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an old lady picked it up and handed it in to the cafe.

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You've got to be in it, to win it.

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Then they try a local pub garden.

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Lovely, thank you.

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Bye.

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But...

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It's been handed in to staff.

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It's a little bit frustrating for me,

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considering I'm there to specifically target the offenders.

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However, it does give you a slight glow inside.

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A lot of people out there are honest people.

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But Dan knows the recent rise in thefts means that not

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everybody is such a glowing example.

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Later, the next person to take the laptop

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certainly isn't bringing it back.

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I saw one of our well-known criminals walking off with it under his arm.

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They're in for a nasty surprise.

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Police!

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But first, a different kind of thief - the chancer.

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Most crime is not like the crime you see in the movies.

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Most crime isn't targeted,

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it's opportunistic thieves

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that focus on the vulnerabilities of a house - something that might

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be left in the garden, the open window, the open door.

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They might see something they want inside that property

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and they'll take that opportunity.

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We're about to see a classic example of opportunistic theft.

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This is a quiet street in Nottingham.

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The camera filming this scene is in this van.

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The van belongs to Shauna.

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She bought the camera to protect herself against car crime.

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I've done a lot of driving in the past and there's a lot of this

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crash-for-claims going on at the moment.

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And I've had an awful lot of very, very near misses.

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These cameras became available on eBay

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and for £22, it'll record for 13 hours on a continuous loop,

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so if you have an accident or anything

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you've got an actual record.

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But Shauna's camera ends up filming a far different crime

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from the sort she might have been expecting.

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Sam, out the way!

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DOG TOY SQUEAKS

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One of my friends wanted some help with a garden.

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I went down to give her a hand, took the lawnmower with me.

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After cutting the grass at the front, Shauna and her friend

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go round to the back, leaving the mower by the garage doors.

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After doing a spot of pruning,

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Shauna comes back round a few minutes later

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to find her £250 mower has disappeared.

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And I said to the girl, I says,

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"What've you done with the lawnmower?" And she says, "Nothing."

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I said, "Where is it?"

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And I thought she was joking, but, no, the lawnmower had gone.

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And then I thought to myself, "Hang on, I've got my camera with me."

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The camera is aimlessly recording the view from the front of her van

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when this man rides past.

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Except he isn't just riding past.

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Something catches his eye.

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Shiftily looking round, as he parks his bike...

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..badly...

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..he then disappears from view for 15 seconds,

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before he scampers past, lugging Shauna's mower.

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What exactly happens to the mower next is a mystery, but the man must

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have stashed it somewhere nearby, so that he can come back for it later.

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And in less than a minute, he returns with a spring in his stop,

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before quickly pedalling off.

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The audacity of if, to just...in broad daylight.

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I could understand at night time sneaking round the back

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and stealing something, but broad daylight?

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Yet the footage provides some vital clues.

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There he goes with my mower!

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Three seconds after spotting it is all it takes for this man

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to decide that he's going to steal Shauna's mower,

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in a classic example of opportunistic theft.

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He must have gone into one of the houses opposite,

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dumped the mower at one of his friend's or something like that.

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And I thought at this stage, "Great, I've got ya."

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While he waltzes off with Shauna's mower, the thief also thoughtfully

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turns to face the front of her van, allowing a proper mugshot.

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And allowing Shauna to put into action a poster campaign

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to publicly trap the perpetrator.

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I put my mobile number on the posters and also asked people, if they knew

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who this chap was, to either contact me or contact the local police.

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In total, Shauna puts up nearly 30 posters in the area.

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Everybody was looking at these posters

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and coming out of the local school and stuff

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and looking at the poster and...

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Just five hours later, the mower thief is - ahem! -

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grassed up!

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This guy phoned me up, he says, "I know him. I know that chap.

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"He's my window cleaner and I've got his phone number, as well.

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"So here's his name, here's his mobile number,

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"and he won't be cleaning my windows any more."

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Shauna hands the thief's details straight over to the police.

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I thought it's better to leave it with the police

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because I didn't want to, sort of, if you like, contaminate anything by

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contacting him myself, because I may have said some choice things to him.

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When the man is arrested a week later for another unrelated offence,

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his name is flashed up on the wanted list

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and he soon confesses to the misappropriation of Shauna's mower.

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He was, I think, given an 18-month conditional discharge.

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If he does anything else wrong, that'll be taken into account,

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and I got compensation for the cost of the mower,

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so it all ended quite well.

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It did indeed end well. And still to come on Caught Red Handed...

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..dicing with death!

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The police laying in wait to catch the level-crossing light jumpers.

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And also, in church, these two are coming to prey.

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Not on their knees, but on the valuables inside.

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But first, in Wrexham, an example of how a small misdemeanour

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can have big consequences.

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This driver displays some pretty appalling skills behind the wheel.

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And some pretty appalling manners, too, when he just motors off

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without any attempt to notify the owner of the car he just hit.

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When the car owner sees the damage the next morning,

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he checks his CCTV camera.

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Handing the footage over to the police,

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they find this hit-and-run driver and he's charged with

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careless driving and failing to stop at or report an accident.

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He was fined and he had five points put on his licence.

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Bet he wishes he'd just left a note.

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In these penny-pinching times,

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police are looking at cost-effective ways of reducing crime, like

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the laptop we've seen PC Dan Cloake leave purposely on a park bench.

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The good thing about operations like this is, it takes minimal

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resources to complete the operation.

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As such it saves the public money,

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but also they have a massive impact on crime figures

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and less people will be victims of crime.

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To help combat a recent spike in personal thefts,

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we've seen Dan and his team leaving a bait laptop out unattended,

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to look like someone's simply forgotten to take it with them,

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while a tracking device is concealed inside.

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If anyone walks off with it who shouldn't, then they'll be followed.

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And with today's attempt,

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Dan already has a bite.

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I've just deployed the laptop in the town centre,

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in quite a busy part of the centre, hoping someone would steal it.

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I've then driven round the block and returned 30 seconds later,

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and it'd disappeared.

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It just so happens, as we were driving around,

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I saw one of our well-known criminals walking off with it under his arm.

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But Dan doesn't want to leap in and heads back to the police station.

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He wants to see if this known thief will lead him to a handler,

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somebody who pays for stolen goods.

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Thieves are less likely to steal something

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if they can't offload it quickly for easy cash.

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So stop the handler and you stop thefts.

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The laptop is fitted with a satellite-tracking device,

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Dan can watch this thief's progress at his leisure back at the station.

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This goes against the grain, really.

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Your policing instincts,

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you've seen a theft, you want to arrest them for it,

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but this is where you've got to go against better judgement.

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Let them walk off with it.

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Dan also has footage of this man carrying the laptop

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from the CCTV cameras covering the town centre.

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He's just milling around, not going anywhere.

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Then he hides himself between two advertising banners.

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Could it be he's trying to hide from this police car that happens

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to be driving by?

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Once he's happy that no-one is going to challenge him,

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he scoots off into the shopping centre.

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It'll be a nice surprise for him in the morning. Bright and breezy, he'll get a visit from us.

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The next day and the GPS signal shows the bait laptop

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is still at the same address.

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I can only assume that he's going to keep it.

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So we need to do a warrant on his house.

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After nearly two days,

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the man has had every chance to return the laptop.

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So, a couple of hours later, a search warrant is granted.

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The team briefed...

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and a raid is launched.

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Nobody's at home.

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14.05. Any exhibits bring them back to me bagged up and signed, please.

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They search for the laptop...

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-Dan!

-Yeah.

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Toshiba?

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Yep, that's the one.

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It's in the bag.

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-In amongst these clothes down here.

-Super.

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Just carry on completing the search.

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It's - funnily enough - just texted me to say it has moved.

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It's still working.

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While we're here, we've got the authority to search the property

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and it makes sense to search for anything else we believe could be stolen.

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Just be aware, guys, that they use needles.

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He was not at the address, so we're going to go out looking for him now,

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with the view of arresting him for theft.

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He is known to hang around the town centre,

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so I don't think it'll take us long to find him.

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Dan knows this man well.

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A repeat offender, Dan has arrested him on three previous occasions.

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The man is currently on a suspended sentence.

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There he is.

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Steve. Steve, hello, mate.

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-How are you?

-Cool. What's up?

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The reason I need to speak to you, buddy.

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-Yeah?

-It's about a laptop.

-What?

-A laptop. OK?

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You were seen to walk off with a laptop

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that was stolen from the town centre yesterday afternoon.

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-"Stolen from the town centre"?!

-That's right.

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And subsequently, we've done a warrant on your flat

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-and we found the laptop in your flat.

-Yeah.

-OK?

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So, I'm going to arrest you, on suspicion of theft, all right?

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'The man knows he can't get out of this one

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'and doesn't put up a struggle.'

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-I walked home with something and it's still lying in my flat.

-It was.

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-Yeah, go on.

-It was. It's not any more.

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No, but it was.

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-Hey...

-It was... Right, it doesn't matter.

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Finish your roll. Hands behind your back, mate.

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We'll pop you down to the police station and chat with you about it.

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I picked something up and took it home, played on it last night.

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It's...a stupid thing to do.

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The man is penitent, as he is taken into custody.

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Already on a suspended sentence, he admits another offence,

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as well as stealing the laptop and, as a result,

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is given a nine-month extension to his current sentence,

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a fine and a community order.

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Dan knows he has to keep tackling repeat offenders in Eastbourne.

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Every conviction will help to reduce the thefts that have recently risen.

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It is a lot of hard work. I didn't get a handler, I was after a handler.

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I was hoping he would sell it on. But that's the way it goes sometimes.

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You have to throw the bait out

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a number of times before you get the desired result.

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But I've caught a thief, so, it's a good job and I'm happy.

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Most of us keep our homes locked.

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But public places like churches, throw their doors open to everyone,

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relying on the goodwill of visitors to leave the place as they found it.

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Sadly, as we're about to see, this isn't always the case...

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Birmingham - and situated opposite the city hospital, this church is

0:20:270:20:31

left open for patients and visitors, to come and go as they please.

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The downside is that not everyone's behaviour is heavenly.

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Such as these two men, who are about to commit daylight robbery.

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Although at least one of the men appears to have a pang of guilt,

0:20:440:20:46

crossing himself, as he approaches the altar.

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Even the man who carries out the theft

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appears to offer a quick prayer for forgiveness,

0:20:520:20:55

before standing on a small chair, reaching up to unhook a solid silver

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lamp, believed to have been at the church since it was built in 1895.

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Worried about non-divine intervention,

0:21:040:21:07

his accomplice watches the exit.

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Using a tracksuit top, the pair shroud the lamp,

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thought to be worth around £4,000, before walking quickly out the door.

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While the church may forgive the theft of their property,

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West Midlands Police certainly don't and hope, from this footage,

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someone will identify these two religious robbers.

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Police surveillance isn't just about solving crime,

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it can be used to protect us from ourselves.

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Judging by some of the scary scenes you're about to see,

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you can see why.

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West Barnes, London. And the British Transport Police are laying a trap.

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Specially designed, this van is rigged with nine separate cameras.

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At the moment, all are trained on this busy level crossing,

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watching and waiting.

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Why? Here's why.

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MUSIC: "Ace Of Spades" by Motorhead

0:22:170:22:20

Level crossing lunacy is a constant problem in the UK.

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There are about 7,000 crossings in the country

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and some people would rather risk their lives than wait.

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Like this smartly-dressed chap coming up, who obviously

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feels those flashing red lights and barriers don't apply to him.

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"Well if he can, I can!" A young man reckons,

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but he hasn't looked properly...

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The youth is, literally, millimetres from death.

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It's so close that train connects with trainer,

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and actually wrenches it off his foot.

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That man is 20-year-old Craig Grant.

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I felt something hit me on my ankle.

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And the pain was like, astronomical,

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it was rushing through my body, like pins and needles.

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Then like, within seconds, my ankle had just swollen up.

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When I went to the hospital, I had broken a bone in my heel.

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You've got the geezer here, just walking across and then, obviously,

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in a minute, you see me coming.

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Obviously, I had my headphones in, so I didn't hear nothing.

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Then I just looked slightly and I saw the train. I made a dart for it.

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It makes my mum feel sick, every time I show it or she sees it.

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Every year, around ten people are killed on level crossings.

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PC Chris Shepherd knows exactly the type of people who play

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Russian roulette with their lives in this way.

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And the truth is close to home.

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It's sort of Mr and Mrs Average, your general law-abiding, decent

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person that would normally never ever interact with the police before,

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is the sort of person who commits offences at level crossings.

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We've found it's often females, aged 45 plus, can be one of our worst offending groups.

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About 92% of them live within 3 or 4 miles of the level crossing,

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so they have this inherent belief that they know how

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the level crossing operates and it is safe the way they do it.

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It isn't.

0:24:300:24:32

When train connects with car at speed,

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the consequences are devastating.

0:24:350:24:37

In 2004, in Berkshire,

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a train hit a car on a level crossing. The resulting impact

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killed not only the car driver, but the train driver and five passengers.

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So, although most of us get frustrated by the lights

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at times, cheating them like this is an offence.

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And, having seen the carnage caused,

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Chris and the British Transport Police want to get tough

0:25:010:25:04

on the level crossing leapers - for their own sake.

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Even if that person, jumps the lights and doesn't get killed, by some sort of miracle,

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they're going to have to live with the fact they potentially derailed

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a train and ruined the lives of people on the train and so forth.

0:25:150:25:18

That's why Chris, a former electrical engineer helped

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Network Rail with the design of this high-tech multi-camera van.

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And that's why he and his fellow officers are waiting

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just down from this level crossing.

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The best way to stop people is to catch them red handed.

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And it's not long before a car goes for it.

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What do you think I pulled you over for?

0:25:410:25:43

Red lights.

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It was red.

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Come and have a look and I'll show you the video.

0:25:500:25:53

Step out of the vehicle.

0:25:530:25:54

Can we play the video back for that one?

0:25:540:25:57

There's no getting out of that one.

0:25:570:26:00

-Let's go back to the car. Have you got your driver's licence?

-Yes.

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-I've a question now, OK?

-Yes.

-You committed an offence which is £60

0:26:030:26:08

and three points on your driver's licence, OK?

0:26:080:26:10

However, I can offer you the driver retraining course.

0:26:100:26:13

The offer is refused.

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Any reason you don't want to take the course?

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Why don't you think you'd learn anything from the course?

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You've obviously made a minor transgression at this stage, OK?

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But unfortunately, what you have to realise is there are trains coming

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through at 70mph, with 1,500 passengers on.

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What you have to do is comply with the red traffic signals so it's safe.

0:26:420:26:45

All right, thank you very much.

0:26:450:26:47

Have a good day.

0:26:490:26:51

They don't realise it can take a train 20 football pitches to stop.

0:26:510:26:54

Train drivers hit that emergency brake

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and it is that horrible sense of inevitability they get that

0:26:570:27:00

it's not going to stop and they think "I'm going to kill that person."

0:27:000:27:04

Some of them don't ever recover from it.

0:27:040:27:06

What do you think I pulled you over for?

0:27:060:27:09

Yeah.

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Red light.

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Do you want to come and watch the video?

0:27:140:27:16

Red light is on.

0:27:160:27:19

You can't argue with a camera.

0:27:190:27:21

They will deny it and get really angry about it

0:27:210:27:23

and then - they'll accept what they've done and go,

0:27:230:27:26

"Actually what I did was really bad."

0:27:260:27:28

We really just want people to get on board with us

0:27:280:27:31

and start using these crossings safely.

0:27:310:27:34

So, always best to stay on the right side of the tracks.

0:27:370:27:42

Join us next time, when the police

0:27:420:27:44

and the public will catch more criminals red handed.

0:27:440:27:48

In this episode, police set up a covert operation to catch laptop thieves. Plus terrifying footage of people who cheat death on level crossings - and how the police catch them in the act.