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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Thieves will steal our cars, our valuables,
just about anything they can get their hands on.
To cut down on crime and antisocial behaviour, the police
are using new tactics, where the bad guys get caught in the act.
They're launching covert operations...
Keep pretending you're talking on the phone for a bit longer, OK, mate?
..and setting clever traps...
The laptop he's about to steal is equipped with a tracking device.
..that deliver unsuspecting crooks...
-Go, go, go!
-..right into their hands.
And there are also ways that we, the public,
and local businesses can fight back, with some tricks of our own.
I weren't going to sit back and let them do this.
I know what you look like and I know who you are.
We've caught you and we're sending you down.
So, anyone who's up to no good had better think twice.
They might just get Caught Red Handed.
Coming up today on Caught Red Handed...
police go after a crook who's stolen a laptop
that belongs to them.
-Yep, that's the one.
Also today in Nottingham,
an opportunistic thief doesn't realise he's being filmed.
I thought at this stage, "Great, I've got ya."
And this driver leaves his mark on a parked car,
but he doesn't leave a note.
Sitting on a park bench in Eastbourne,
drinking coffee with his laptop by his side,
this man looks like any other member of the public,
enjoying a quick break from the world.
A few minutes later, he gets up to make a phone call.
And then wanders off.
Absent-mindedly leaving his laptop behind,
Careless, you might think,
but it's not what it seems.
This is all part of an undercover police sting operation.
Watching is plainclothes PC, Dan Cloake.
It's a waiting game now. We'll soon find out if it's been stolen or not.
I'd be lying if I said it wasn't exciting.
But...we'll see how it goes.
Eastbourne isn't really a place you'd associate with crime,
but it's rising.
The increase in theft offences has gone up
by probably 15% in the last 12 months.
So to snare a thief,
Dan and the plainclothes unit have specially prepared a bait laptop.
The purpose of the operation is to prosecute people
that are buying stolen goods from the thieves.
By taking out one handler, we can remove possibly 10-50 crimes,
and that means 10-50 less victims of crime.
It's not just time and money we can lose when someone steals our laptop.
It can be valuable data, such as government information
or something very sentimental and totally irreplaceable.
Joanne is a professional photographer
and one day she got in late after photographing a wedding.
What I do after every wedding is, I come home that evening and I back up,
so I've got three copies.
Safe, you might think.
But while she slept upstairs,
burglars broke in and stole her expensive laptop
and photography equipment, as well as her vital storage drives.
Initially, to be honest, I didn't think about myself.
Um, the first thing that came to mind were the wedding pictures.
You know, a couple, I'd spent a long time with them,
as I always do, connecting with them, choosing special places on their day,
taking time out to get the right shots.
Those memories, which you cannot recapture, had gone.
I spent the next three weeks sobbing my heart out
because I'd lost wedding photos.
Joanne has had to rebuild her business and now backs up her
computer to an internet cloud storage system, for extra security.
That's why PC Dan Cloake is keen for his bait laptop to be swiped -
to stop future thefts of computers
and the heartbreak personal data loss can bring.
The team have concealed a tracking device inside the laptop that
will enable them to follow it, should it fall into the wrong hands.
Also, there is every opportunity do the right thing.
There's a card with the apparent owner's contact details.
Just so it's fair on those that don't intend to steal it.
Dan and a fellow undercover officer will plant
the laptop in a place that's known to attract would-be thieves.
We'll leave it wherever the offending's been,
and that's parks, cafes, on buses.
As we saw earlier, the laptop's been left on a bench,
but will it stay there?
20 minutes later, Dan gets a call.
INDISTINCT MALE VOICE
Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.
A member of the public phones to say they've found his laptop.
Dan arranges to meet them back in the park.
I won't identify myself as a police officer, cos for all I know
it could be a dishonest person that's testing the water.
So I'll just thank them for their time and their honestly.
No thief caught this time.
Well, we'll put the laptop back out somewhere else,
and it's almost like fishing.
We need to cast our rod a couple of times before we get
a successful hit.
Next, they're going to leave it in a cafe.
-See you later.
-The bait laptop will alert Dan when it's been moved
and he can then track it on his own computer.
But although theft figures are up in this town, Dan's about to
find out that sometimes you can't even give something away.
Soon after we deployed it,
an old lady picked it up and handed it in to the cafe.
You've got to be in it, to win it.
Then they try a local pub garden.
Lovely, thank you.
It's been handed in to staff.
It's a little bit frustrating for me,
considering I'm there to specifically target the offenders.
However, it does give you a slight glow inside.
A lot of people out there are honest people.
But Dan knows the recent rise in thefts means that not
everybody is such a glowing example.
Later, the next person to take the laptop
certainly isn't bringing it back.
I saw one of our well-known criminals walking off with it under his arm.
They're in for a nasty surprise.
But first, a different kind of thief - the chancer.
Most crime is not like the crime you see in the movies.
Most crime isn't targeted,
it's opportunistic thieves
that focus on the vulnerabilities of a house - something that might
be left in the garden, the open window, the open door.
They might see something they want inside that property
and they'll take that opportunity.
We're about to see a classic example of opportunistic theft.
This is a quiet street in Nottingham.
The camera filming this scene is in this van.
The van belongs to Shauna.
She bought the camera to protect herself against car crime.
I've done a lot of driving in the past and there's a lot of this
crash-for-claims going on at the moment.
And I've had an awful lot of very, very near misses.
These cameras became available on eBay
and for £22, it'll record for 13 hours on a continuous loop,
so if you have an accident or anything
you've got an actual record.
But Shauna's camera ends up filming a far different crime
from the sort she might have been expecting.
Sam, out the way!
DOG TOY SQUEAKS
One of my friends wanted some help with a garden.
I went down to give her a hand, took the lawnmower with me.
After cutting the grass at the front, Shauna and her friend
go round to the back, leaving the mower by the garage doors.
After doing a spot of pruning,
Shauna comes back round a few minutes later
to find her £250 mower has disappeared.
And I said to the girl, I says,
"What've you done with the lawnmower?" And she says, "Nothing."
I said, "Where is it?"
And I thought she was joking, but, no, the lawnmower had gone.
And then I thought to myself, "Hang on, I've got my camera with me."
The camera is aimlessly recording the view from the front of her van
when this man rides past.
Except he isn't just riding past.
Something catches his eye.
Shiftily looking round, as he parks his bike...
..he then disappears from view for 15 seconds,
before he scampers past, lugging Shauna's mower.
What exactly happens to the mower next is a mystery, but the man must
have stashed it somewhere nearby, so that he can come back for it later.
And in less than a minute, he returns with a spring in his stop,
before quickly pedalling off.
The audacity of if, to just...in broad daylight.
I could understand at night time sneaking round the back
and stealing something, but broad daylight?
Yet the footage provides some vital clues.
There he goes with my mower!
Three seconds after spotting it is all it takes for this man
to decide that he's going to steal Shauna's mower,
in a classic example of opportunistic theft.
He must have gone into one of the houses opposite,
dumped the mower at one of his friend's or something like that.
And I thought at this stage, "Great, I've got ya."
While he waltzes off with Shauna's mower, the thief also thoughtfully
turns to face the front of her van, allowing a proper mugshot.
And allowing Shauna to put into action a poster campaign
to publicly trap the perpetrator.
I put my mobile number on the posters and also asked people, if they knew
who this chap was, to either contact me or contact the local police.
In total, Shauna puts up nearly 30 posters in the area.
Everybody was looking at these posters
and coming out of the local school and stuff
and looking at the poster and...
Just five hours later, the mower thief is - ahem! -
This guy phoned me up, he says, "I know him. I know that chap.
"He's my window cleaner and I've got his phone number, as well.
"So here's his name, here's his mobile number,
"and he won't be cleaning my windows any more."
Shauna hands the thief's details straight over to the police.
I thought it's better to leave it with the police
because I didn't want to, sort of, if you like, contaminate anything by
contacting him myself, because I may have said some choice things to him.
When the man is arrested a week later for another unrelated offence,
his name is flashed up on the wanted list
and he soon confesses to the misappropriation of Shauna's mower.
He was, I think, given an 18-month conditional discharge.
If he does anything else wrong, that'll be taken into account,
and I got compensation for the cost of the mower,
so it all ended quite well.
It did indeed end well. And still to come on Caught Red Handed...
..dicing with death!
The police laying in wait to catch the level-crossing light jumpers.
And also, in church, these two are coming to prey.
Not on their knees, but on the valuables inside.
But first, in Wrexham, an example of how a small misdemeanour
can have big consequences.
This driver displays some pretty appalling skills behind the wheel.
And some pretty appalling manners, too, when he just motors off
without any attempt to notify the owner of the car he just hit.
When the car owner sees the damage the next morning,
he checks his CCTV camera.
Handing the footage over to the police,
they find this hit-and-run driver and he's charged with
careless driving and failing to stop at or report an accident.
He was fined and he had five points put on his licence.
Bet he wishes he'd just left a note.
In these penny-pinching times,
police are looking at cost-effective ways of reducing crime, like
the laptop we've seen PC Dan Cloake leave purposely on a park bench.
The good thing about operations like this is, it takes minimal
resources to complete the operation.
As such it saves the public money,
but also they have a massive impact on crime figures
and less people will be victims of crime.
To help combat a recent spike in personal thefts,
we've seen Dan and his team leaving a bait laptop out unattended,
to look like someone's simply forgotten to take it with them,
while a tracking device is concealed inside.
If anyone walks off with it who shouldn't, then they'll be followed.
And with today's attempt,
Dan already has a bite.
I've just deployed the laptop in the town centre,
in quite a busy part of the centre, hoping someone would steal it.
I've then driven round the block and returned 30 seconds later,
and it'd disappeared.
It just so happens, as we were driving around,
I saw one of our well-known criminals walking off with it under his arm.
But Dan doesn't want to leap in and heads back to the police station.
He wants to see if this known thief will lead him to a handler,
somebody who pays for stolen goods.
Thieves are less likely to steal something
if they can't offload it quickly for easy cash.
So stop the handler and you stop thefts.
The laptop is fitted with a satellite-tracking device,
Dan can watch this thief's progress at his leisure back at the station.
This goes against the grain, really.
Your policing instincts,
you've seen a theft, you want to arrest them for it,
but this is where you've got to go against better judgement.
Let them walk off with it.
Dan also has footage of this man carrying the laptop
from the CCTV cameras covering the town centre.
He's just milling around, not going anywhere.
Then he hides himself between two advertising banners.
Could it be he's trying to hide from this police car that happens
to be driving by?
Once he's happy that no-one is going to challenge him,
he scoots off into the shopping centre.
It'll be a nice surprise for him in the morning. Bright and breezy, he'll get a visit from us.
The next day and the GPS signal shows the bait laptop
is still at the same address.
I can only assume that he's going to keep it.
So we need to do a warrant on his house.
After nearly two days,
the man has had every chance to return the laptop.
So, a couple of hours later, a search warrant is granted.
The team briefed...
and a raid is launched.
Nobody's at home.
14.05. Any exhibits bring them back to me bagged up and signed, please.
They search for the laptop...
Yep, that's the one.
It's in the bag.
-In amongst these clothes down here.
Just carry on completing the search.
It's - funnily enough - just texted me to say it has moved.
It's still working.
While we're here, we've got the authority to search the property
and it makes sense to search for anything else we believe could be stolen.
Just be aware, guys, that they use needles.
He was not at the address, so we're going to go out looking for him now,
with the view of arresting him for theft.
He is known to hang around the town centre,
so I don't think it'll take us long to find him.
Dan knows this man well.
A repeat offender, Dan has arrested him on three previous occasions.
The man is currently on a suspended sentence.
There he is.
Steve. Steve, hello, mate.
-How are you?
-Cool. What's up?
The reason I need to speak to you, buddy.
-It's about a laptop.
-A laptop. OK?
You were seen to walk off with a laptop
that was stolen from the town centre yesterday afternoon.
-"Stolen from the town centre"?!
And subsequently, we've done a warrant on your flat
-and we found the laptop in your flat.
So, I'm going to arrest you, on suspicion of theft, all right?
'The man knows he can't get out of this one
'and doesn't put up a struggle.'
-I walked home with something and it's still lying in my flat.
-Yeah, go on.
-It was. It's not any more.
No, but it was.
-It was... Right, it doesn't matter.
Finish your roll. Hands behind your back, mate.
We'll pop you down to the police station and chat with you about it.
I picked something up and took it home, played on it last night.
It's...a stupid thing to do.
The man is penitent, as he is taken into custody.
Already on a suspended sentence, he admits another offence,
as well as stealing the laptop and, as a result,
is given a nine-month extension to his current sentence,
a fine and a community order.
Dan knows he has to keep tackling repeat offenders in Eastbourne.
Every conviction will help to reduce the thefts that have recently risen.
It is a lot of hard work. I didn't get a handler, I was after a handler.
I was hoping he would sell it on. But that's the way it goes sometimes.
You have to throw the bait out
a number of times before you get the desired result.
But I've caught a thief, so, it's a good job and I'm happy.
Most of us keep our homes locked.
But public places like churches, throw their doors open to everyone,
relying on the goodwill of visitors to leave the place as they found it.
Sadly, as we're about to see, this isn't always the case...
Birmingham - and situated opposite the city hospital, this church is
left open for patients and visitors, to come and go as they please.
The downside is that not everyone's behaviour is heavenly.
Such as these two men, who are about to commit daylight robbery.
Although at least one of the men appears to have a pang of guilt,
crossing himself, as he approaches the altar.
Even the man who carries out the theft
appears to offer a quick prayer for forgiveness,
before standing on a small chair, reaching up to unhook a solid silver
lamp, believed to have been at the church since it was built in 1895.
Worried about non-divine intervention,
his accomplice watches the exit.
Using a tracksuit top, the pair shroud the lamp,
thought to be worth around £4,000, before walking quickly out the door.
While the church may forgive the theft of their property,
West Midlands Police certainly don't and hope, from this footage,
someone will identify these two religious robbers.
Police surveillance isn't just about solving crime,
it can be used to protect us from ourselves.
Judging by some of the scary scenes you're about to see,
you can see why.
West Barnes, London. And the British Transport Police are laying a trap.
Specially designed, this van is rigged with nine separate cameras.
At the moment, all are trained on this busy level crossing,
watching and waiting.
Why? Here's why.
MUSIC: "Ace Of Spades" by Motorhead
Level crossing lunacy is a constant problem in the UK.
There are about 7,000 crossings in the country
and some people would rather risk their lives than wait.
Like this smartly-dressed chap coming up, who obviously
feels those flashing red lights and barriers don't apply to him.
"Well if he can, I can!" A young man reckons,
but he hasn't looked properly...
The youth is, literally, millimetres from death.
It's so close that train connects with trainer,
and actually wrenches it off his foot.
That man is 20-year-old Craig Grant.
I felt something hit me on my ankle.
And the pain was like, astronomical,
it was rushing through my body, like pins and needles.
Then like, within seconds, my ankle had just swollen up.
When I went to the hospital, I had broken a bone in my heel.
You've got the geezer here, just walking across and then, obviously,
in a minute, you see me coming.
Obviously, I had my headphones in, so I didn't hear nothing.
Then I just looked slightly and I saw the train. I made a dart for it.
It makes my mum feel sick, every time I show it or she sees it.
Every year, around ten people are killed on level crossings.
PC Chris Shepherd knows exactly the type of people who play
Russian roulette with their lives in this way.
And the truth is close to home.
It's sort of Mr and Mrs Average, your general law-abiding, decent
person that would normally never ever interact with the police before,
is the sort of person who commits offences at level crossings.
We've found it's often females, aged 45 plus, can be one of our worst offending groups.
About 92% of them live within 3 or 4 miles of the level crossing,
so they have this inherent belief that they know how
the level crossing operates and it is safe the way they do it.
When train connects with car at speed,
the consequences are devastating.
In 2004, in Berkshire,
a train hit a car on a level crossing. The resulting impact
killed not only the car driver, but the train driver and five passengers.
So, although most of us get frustrated by the lights
at times, cheating them like this is an offence.
And, having seen the carnage caused,
Chris and the British Transport Police want to get tough
on the level crossing leapers - for their own sake.
Even if that person, jumps the lights and doesn't get killed, by some sort of miracle,
they're going to have to live with the fact they potentially derailed
a train and ruined the lives of people on the train and so forth.
That's why Chris, a former electrical engineer helped
Network Rail with the design of this high-tech multi-camera van.
And that's why he and his fellow officers are waiting
just down from this level crossing.
The best way to stop people is to catch them red handed.
And it's not long before a car goes for it.
What do you think I pulled you over for?
It was red.
Come and have a look and I'll show you the video.
Step out of the vehicle.
Can we play the video back for that one?
There's no getting out of that one.
-Let's go back to the car. Have you got your driver's licence?
-I've a question now, OK?
-You committed an offence which is £60
and three points on your driver's licence, OK?
However, I can offer you the driver retraining course.
The offer is refused.
Any reason you don't want to take the course?
Why don't you think you'd learn anything from the course?
You've obviously made a minor transgression at this stage, OK?
But unfortunately, what you have to realise is there are trains coming
through at 70mph, with 1,500 passengers on.
What you have to do is comply with the red traffic signals so it's safe.
All right, thank you very much.
Have a good day.
They don't realise it can take a train 20 football pitches to stop.
Train drivers hit that emergency brake
and it is that horrible sense of inevitability they get that
it's not going to stop and they think "I'm going to kill that person."
Some of them don't ever recover from it.
What do you think I pulled you over for?
Do you want to come and watch the video?
Red light is on.
You can't argue with a camera.
They will deny it and get really angry about it
and then - they'll accept what they've done and go,
"Actually what I did was really bad."
We really just want people to get on board with us
and start using these crossings safely.
So, always best to stay on the right side of the tracks.
Join us next time, when the police
and the public will catch more criminals red handed.
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.