In this episode, thieves break into a garage, unaware that it is a police trap. Meanwhile, in another district, residents trap a vandal - and are amazed at who it is.
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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 now
using new tactics, where the bad guys actually get caught in the act.
They are launching covert operations...
Keep pretending you are talking on the phone for a bit longer, OK, mate?
..and setting clever traps...
The laptop he is 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.
We have caught you and we are sending you down.
So, anyone who is up to no good had better think twice.
They might just get caught red-handed.
Coming up today on Caught Red Handed,
the motorbike this pair are trying to steal doesn't work
but the police camera recording their every move does work.
They have no idea that we know they're breaking into the garage
and we know we can track it.
Also today, a unlikely car vandal is unmasked.
You're sort of in shock. You're holding your hand over your mouth,
going, "I can't believe it."
And in Derbyshire, a puppy cam.
It was meant to keep an eye on a young dog
but caught a couple of rats too.
But first, a police operation in the West Midlands that's targeting
drug abuse and antisocial behaviour.
All over the country, there is a problem with large
gatherings of youths hanging around particular areas of
town centres, council estates and shopping precincts.
It can frighten off people going around their normal business.
Gangs and more serious crime can take a hold and, at worst,
they can become no-go areas.
But in the West Midlands,
we are about to see the police fighting back.
My name is Mark Bellingham, I'm a sergeant from the gangs team.
If I just give you a little bit of background.
We are currently looking at a group called the Raiders.
They predominantly have their footprint in the West Bromwich area.
However, there is a footprint within the Birmingham South area
and the Kings Norton area.
Sergeant Mark Bellingham is part of a special gangs task force.
He is planning a surprise raid on a shopping precinct
in the Kings Norton area.
It looks innocent enough but local residents have
complained about incidents of violence and intimidation.
Some have been choosing to stay away from the shops rather than
run the gauntlet past the youths, some of whom people
report are drug-running and attacking passers-by.
This local man is too afraid of reprisals to be identified.
But he says he speaks for many in the area.
Police have had enough and they are taking action.
The youths are unaware of it but the square is being watched.
Inside this ordinary-looking white van is an undercover police officer.
We have to hide her identity.
She has taken control of the council's nearby CCTV cameras and
for the next few days she will be recording every move in the square.
We can move the camera 360 degrees,
we can zoom in, we can zoom out and capture faces.
We can take still photos from the footage or, obviously,
we can record it as well as video evidence.
Mark is studying the footage from the cameras in the square.
As you can start to see now, these two lads here who, again,
are larking around but you've got to ask yourself the question -
would you walk past that? Would you be happy enough to walk through that?
And if you were driving past and thought you needed a shop,
would you stop there?
The cameras have caught more than just antisocial behaviour.
This next snippet, there's a deal.
You have got the lad with two bags either being handed money or drugs.
There is that furtive look round the shoulder. He was looking,
he was checking it out.
We have all been kids once and we have all hung around
and in the grand scheme of things, why should we stop that?
In fact, we want to encourage our kids to socialise
and have friends and be able to kind of let off some steam.
It is when it starts to cross that boundary into
criminality that we have to be quite robust in trying to minimise
that harm that's caused to the community.
As well as chasing down gang leaders, the task force also
sets out to prevent youngsters from joining gangs in the first place.
While we will look to drive enforcement,
we will also be looking at getting talks into schools,
certainly those schools that have been identified as having those kids
that are starting to aspire to that gang.
Mark's team and local officers are getting ready to swoop.
They aim to speak to all the youths within the square.
You guys are going to come round from the two sides.
What we want to do is make sure that between the rest of us
we have got the alleyway...
One of the alleyways covered from the opposite side
and the other open side.
Their eye on the square, the officer in the white van
is waiting for youths to arrive on the scene.
As soon as she spots them, she will alert Mark.
If I was one of them, I would be running away from the police,
which means they should be running straight into you guys.
Go, go, go. Go, go, go.
Later, it's a shock for the kids on the block as Mark's team crashes in.
We may spend a lot of time and money securing our houses
but we often overlook our sheds and garages.
Go into your garage and look at the items in there and add it all up.
I've got my lawnmower, I've got my petrol strimmer,
my petrol hedge-cutter.
It would be really surprising to see how valuable your items are.
And yet most of us have only got a flimsy padlock, if that,
to safeguard our valued possessions.
One man in Gateshead knows all about what it is like to
suffer at the hands of garage-raiders.
When Leon Thompson came to buying his first home,
he admits it wasn't particularly the location that attracted him.
When I viewed the house, I seen there was graffiti on the outside
so I knew it wasn't the best place but this was the biggest house
I could afford for the money I had at the time.
Right from the kick-off, there was trouble.
I had a housewarming party...
..and there were some lads,
probably 8 to 10 of them, walking past the house.
They were wanting to be in for the party. My mates told them to jog on.
They weren't happy with that so they ended up battering
my friend in and he ended up losing teeth out of it.
This was just before Christmas, so Leon's worried mum decided it
wasn't going to be socks and aftershave this year.
She actually bought the CCTV for Christmas.
It immediately proves useful when Leon has other party.
Everyone had brought drink except for this guy,
who was bringing his girlfriend as well.
I woke up in the morning, he was gone.
Went into the kitchen, all the alcohol we had there,
spirit bottles, all gone.
Leon checks the footage from his new camera.
Sure enough, him and his girlfriend,
it's them walking out of the house, hands full, all the bottles
they could carry, going into the car and then driving home.
Leon decided to shame the booze-burglars publicly
by putting the film up on the internet.
Everyone could see what he was getting up to.
I have seen the guy since. We don't really get on that well.
But the worst theft was about to come.
Luckily, Leon's garage cam is rolling.
20-to-1 in the morning and while Leon is sound asleep upstairs,
through the hole in the fence two hooded figures slink into view.
Leon hasn't got a door yet on his newly-built garage,
so entry is a doddle. They make for Leon's expensive motorbikes.
They quickly uncover one but just when it all looks too easy for them,
they are confronted with a serious chain,
bolting the bikes to the garage floor.
So is that it? They've given up?
40 minutes later, they are back with a huge pair of bolt cutters,
which unfortunately make short shrift of Leon's chain.
One of them uses their phone light to work out how to start the bike,
ready for a quick getaway on the road.
My blood was boiling when I first seen this. I was shaking.
I just wanted to go out and find them.
There is a pit there which I was hoping he'd fall down.
Unfortunately he didn't.
Leon hadn't been able to afford an insurance policy
that covered theft, so his loss was total.
When I bought the bike, it was actually, other than the house,
the most expensive thing that I have ever bought. I was absolutely gutted.
He handed this CCTV footage over to the police
and waited in hope that they would be able to get his bike back.
But sadly, they never did.
I am massively angry at everyone who has stolen off me
cos it's happened a lot of times.
I wouldn't like to bump into them in the street. Well, actually, I would.
They wouldn't want to bump into me, I don't think.
But there are some consolations.
Word looks to have got around about his CCTV system as he has had
no further trouble for six months
and his cameras have benefited others too.
There was a woman who lives opposite in a bungalow and she had some
conmen come over to her house saying they were there to check the gas
and they went in and ended up going into her bedroom
and stealing her money that she had hidden.
The police later came round to my house, asking for any footage
and, from this footage, they did end up getting prosecuted.
To help prevent garage thefts like Leon's,
down in East Sussex, Inspector Paul Phelps is trying out
a new way of catching thieves by luring them in.
Every day, someone's garage was getting broken into.
We'd done a number of other tactics,
lots of hi-vis patrols, we worked with the community
but we weren't actually reducing those offences.
So we've got bait cars we've had for a number of years, actually,
why don't we have a bait garage?
So, how to set up a bait garage.
Step one - choose an area where crime is on the rise.
This garage was identified as being an ideal location.
A number of garages have been broken into in that vicinity over
a number of weeks.
Next, put something in your garage
that a would-be thief will want to take out.
This is exactly the sort of bike that we would use.
It would be disabled, that you can't ride it.
Then, however your thief moves the bike,
make sure they can be followed.
Transmitters these days are so, so small.
Tiny enough to fit in a matchbox.
Secrete this transmitter
so it is not readily accessible by the would-be thief.
The garage is then rigged with hidden cameras that start
recording when motion is detected and a trigger on the door.
When it's opened, an alert is sent to a police mobile phone.
We haven't got to be staffing an observation point
for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We let technology work for us.
Now, trap set, Paul's team sit back and wait for the action.
The garage went live in the afternoon.
By the following afternoon, our motorcycle had been stolen.
They didn't have to wait long.
Just 24 hours after the garage is set up, two hooded figures arrive.
Over the next few minutes, they try to get the bike started,
unaware it has been disabled and unaware they are being filmed.
Even though they can't get it started,
this pair still decide this bike's worth nicking.
Having checked the coast is clear,
they are now wheeling it off into the sunset.
Or so they think.
They have got no idea that we have got them on camera, that we
know they have broken into the garage and we know we can track it.
The police followed the signal and the two miscreants had
a nasty surprise when the officers came knocking.
They showed them the video's evidence
and asked for their bike back.
It's quite compelling evidence really, isn't it?
You're caught with the goods and you are on video doing it.
It's case closed.
The two thieves were juveniles and had no previous record,
so both received an official caution with a warning of a harsher
sentence if they were caught doing wrong again.
For police, in the past, these operations used to involve
lengthy stakeouts and considerable manpower. Not any more.
We can run 10, 15 bait operations at the same time because,
actually, technology does all the work for us.
And it's not just bait garages thieves have to look out for.
We have gone to bait bicycles, you know, bait beach huts, you know,
bait caravans. We are everywhere. We are doing this on a daily basis.
So think about what you're doing because, actually, you could be
on camera, we could be watching you, we could be tracking you.
The message is don't do it.
So, thieves everywhere, you have been warned.
And still to come on today's Caught Red Handed,
a neighbourhood dispute gets messy.
She's got a cup of flour and just thrown it all over my car
and then with what was left in the cup
she has thrown it on my neighbour's car as well.
And also, a farmer, a tractor and a hold-up.
But this time it is the getaway car that gets held up.
We see a lot of CCTV cameras around these days
but not everybody is using them to guard against crime.
Some people have them to keep an eye on their pets.
But even those can catch a thief.
In Derbyshire, there is a dog called Molly. She lives here.
The two men currently trying to bust through the door don't.
The reason there is a camera in the kitchen is that the homeowner
wants to keep tabs on Molly, his new boxer puppy, while he is at work.
Little did he know, it would capture these burglars calmly strolling
in while Molly - lovely temperament, useless guard dog - watches on.
Thankfully, the home's alarm proves more effective
and the pair scarper empty-handed.
But with their faces caught on camera,
"collared" by police the next day.
And Molly, no doubt, was booked in for some guard dog lessons.
Back to Kings Norton, West Midlands,
where the police are using CCTV cameras in a bid to clear
a shopping precinct of drugs and antisocial behaviour.
With its many cameras,
Britain is sometimes dubbed a surveillance society but in the eyes
of the police, they are there not to watch us but to watch out for us.
Antisocial behaviour and groups of youths
hanging around the streets can really frighten people.
We use CCTV as a preventative and a reassurance tool
but it does actually help us in combating antisocial behaviour
and bringing offenders to justice.
Gangs of youths, some of whom are linked to drug-dealing
in this square, are about to get a wake-up call.
Sergeant Mark Bellingham and his gangs task force team
are preparing to swoop down on the square.
They will make arrests if they find drugs but the raid is also
designed to send a strong message to the youths that antisocial
behaviour won't be tolerated and the police are on their case.
An undercover officer has been watching the square closely and will
let Mark's team know when
a number of youths have gathered on the square.
We are looking for specific people to be in the location,
specific activity as well.
And then we will make the call to Mark to go ahead with the operation.
Once you are in there, same plan as before.
I'll give you a ring once we've stopped short and you can say,
Mark's unit, along with local officers,
make up the strike team of 15.
The plan is to approach the square rapidly on all sides
and surround the youths.
We are starting to hit prime time now
so probably from four o'clock onwards will be playtime.
There's a couple of youngsters
the team are particularly interested to meet.
I have actually just seen them
walking down one of the walkways, headed towards the square.
What direction were they going in?
'We are pretty much ready to go.'
So we will be striking in the next 5, 10 minutes.
Two undercover officers have gone ahead.
They're already in one of the shops.
OK, mate, I'll tell you what, we are on our way.
Keep pretending you're talking on the phone for a bit longer, OK, mate?
Will do. Will do when we're in position.
-Didn't the phone call give it away, who they were?
No, no, we have worked on some fairly basic code
that the flooring people are on their way.
They make the short journey to the square.
Mark gives the signal to his team.
Go, go, go. Go, go, go.
Here we go. Here we go.
All right there, chaps. How are you doing? You all right?
Chaps, you're going to wait with us.
We'll be doing drug searches with you guys, OK?
-So you guys will be standing with us.
-Have you got anything on you you shouldn't have?
Can I ask you, everything you've got in your pockets,
just start getting it out now for us?
That's great. Anything else? Just give us your keys, sunshine.
No-one escapes. They are all searched.
I'll give you all the reasons why you're being searched, OK.
Basically, the area is known for having quite a bit of drugs around.
You know the place. You know what the score is, don't you?
Because we have had continuing reports about drug use,
drug-dealing, that kind of stuff, that's why we are all here
and we're going to do a search of the place.
The youngsters now know
the police are taking illegal activities on the square seriously.
We have got to work out... I'm going to sort out in a minute,
that we might have to do strip searches.
The police will be watching to stop the area becoming
a focus for antisocial behaviour and drug-taking.
Because people are saying and moaning and complaining
about drugs around the area, it is
going to bring more attention and bring more attention from us.
So, today, if we keep getting reports of it there'll just be
more of us around and we'll keep stopping and searching
and at some point, if you have got something on you,
you're going to get locked up.
Since this raid on the square,
West Midlands police have made eight arrests,
four of them for dealing.
Ultimately, they run the risk of getting locked up.
They run the risk of going to prison.
And then it is very difficult to turn back that clock
and go down a different path
so my message would be that there are people out there who can help.
If people are getting themselves into situations that are probably
a little bit beyond them and situations
they can no longer control, there is help out there to assist
people to get away from that gang lifestyle.
There are lots of examples on the internet of ordinary people
catching criminals red-handed.
Here is a bizarre example from Norway.
This is 66-year-old Harald Mikkelsen.
He may look calm but he is actually in the process of
stopping a getaway car after a robbery attempt
in a slightly unusual fashion.
This scene came about after Harald here interrupted an intruder
trying to break into his store.
The would-be thief ran off to his car.
Harald ran off to his nearby tractor
and before the would-be thief could drive off,
Harald rammed the car and has used his tractor's hydraulic forks
to lift the car's front wheels off the ground.
It was at this point that this passer-by started filming.
Looking like some kind of bug trying to wriggle free
from the clutches of a mechanical praying mantis,
the thief inside the car
spins his wheels and tries turning the steering wheel back and forth.
In the end, he gives up struggling and accepts his fate.
Then the police arrive and Harald is finally ready to end the hold-up and
give them one of the easiest arrests they will ever have to perform.
Most crimes are committed by young people aged 16 to 25,
but there are offenders of all ages.
It seems some people still aren't old enough to know better,
as we are about to see.
This street in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire
may look quiet now but an argument over this piece of land
led to the neighbourhood turning nasty.
On the CCTV, I was absolutely shocked.
This actual video footage revealed an unlikely offender and
brought an end to a bitter dispute that had raged for over a year.
Claire has lived in this house for 16 years.
The front now looks like this, with an extension being built.
But back then it looked a bit more like this.
When I first bought the house,
the plot of land adjacent to the house was not maintained,
the trees were overgrown, cars would just park up and down.
The land at the front of her house
and alongside her garden was no man's land.
Meaning it legally belonged to nobody.
The problem for Claire was that the neighbours' cars were often
parked right across her front door.
We put parking outside our own front door.
We spoke to everyone, we block-paved it
so it was nice and clean and it made everything look much nicer.
Claire said she also created a couple of extra spaces
for the neighbourhood in general by cutting back
the overgrown shrubs and trees of the no man's land.
She continued to maintain it for the next 12 years.
Because she did this,
she was eventually entitled to claim a piece of the land as her own.
There is a period of time, which is 12 years,
before you can actually put it into your own name.
But not everybody saw it that way.
I had moved my garden fence out. That's when it all started.
Some people in the neighbourhood took exception
and officially petitioned to block her plan.
Other residents, including Diane, who lives a few
doors down from Claire, supported her right to the land.
Claire spent many of her hours out there, clearing up rubbish,
-old bottles, tyres...
-Yeah, everything got thrown on the drive.
..dog fouling. You know, really made it look pretty.
The council ruled in Claire's favour
and, shortly afterwards, a spate of vandalism broke out.
First of all, we noticed that cars were...
Aerials were being taken off, cars were being keyed, scratched.
Fed up, Claire decided to invest in extra protection.
I got the cameras because I thought, "This is ridiculous."
Every time I phoned the police with another
bit of damage on my car - "Have you got any witnesses?" "No."
Experiencing the same problem, her close neighbours
clubbed together with Claire to install four cameras on her house.
Because then it would point in different directions
to help out the community as well.
Designed to record whenever they detected motion,
it didn't take the cameras long to catch something.
Early one morning,
Claire had an unpleasant surprise as she left for work.
I've got into the car
and I've put the windscreen wipers on to clear it a bit better.
It started going a bit gloopy so I realised it wasn't just ice.
I parked up in the car park at the High Street
and, as I came out of the car, I turned round to have a
look at the bonnet and it was smothered in white gunk.
Claire couldn't leave work so she asked
if Diane could let herself in with a spare key
and take a look at the CCTV footage to see what had gone on.
This is what she saw.
A hooded, cigarette-smoking figure throws what seems like white powder
over Claire's car and then another neighbour's before strolling off.
I did actually say to you, didn't I, "You're not going to believe this"?
I had to rewind it about three or four times.
But it wasn't the offence that left Diane dumbfounded,
it was the offender.
You are holding your hand over your mouth going, "I can't believe it."
Hidden under the hood is a churchgoing grandmother who
is also the coordinator of a local neighbourhood watch.
She has got a cup of flour and just thrown it all over my car
and then with what was left in the cup she has thrown it on my
neighbour's car as well and then just walked back into her own house.
The fact that the woman was filmed entering her front door meant
that when Claire handed over the footage to the police,
they decided they had more than enough to arrest the flour-thrower.
I was told by the police that she denied it up until they said,
"Well, we've got CCTV footage and it is you."
And that is when she said, "Oh, I'm sorry."
The woman was given an official caution by the police
and was eventually forced to pay compensation to Claire for
the irreparable damage to her soft-top roof.
Eventually, the flour-flinging woman
moved out of the area completely.
I think she was embarrassed
because she was a very well-respected lady amongst the community.
Now that things have calmed down,
Claire has dared to start extending her house while her cameras
continue to keep an eye on her and her neighbour's property.
It has definitely brought us together as a community
and we are looking out for each other.
Love thy neighbour.
Join us next time,
when the police and the public catch more crooks red-handed.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd