A look at innovative ways of catching criminals. In this episode, the remarkable story of a police operation to smash a drugs ring and catch the dealers in the act.
Browse content similar to Episode 5. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Thieves will steal our cars, our valuables.
Just about anything they can get their hands on.
To cut down on crime and anti-social behaviour, the police are now
using new tactics where the bad guys actually get caught in the act.
They are launching covert operations...
Pretend you're talking on the phone for a bit longer, OK, mate.
..and setting clever traps...
The laptop is equipped with a tracking device.
..that deliver unsuspecting crooks 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 wasn't going to sit back and let them do this.
We've caught you and we are sending you down.
So, anyone who's up to no good had better think twice.
They may just get caught red-handed.
Coming up today on Caught Red Handed -
dramatic footage of people running towards a car to buy Class A drugs.
Never in my policing experience
have I experienced anything of this magnitude.
The police launch a huge covert operation to catch the dealers.
And in Essex, two men pretending to be from the Water Board
have a more sinister purpose.
It does make you feel quite sick to actually look at them
and think, they're ransacking through my mum's sentimental stuff.
Also today - this guy is knowingly using a stolen laptop,
but what he doesn't know is that it's secretly filming him.
West Midlands Police,
forcing their way into the home of a suspected drug dealer.
Stay where you are!
It's the final stages of an operation that began
three months earlier in the suburb of Bordesley Green, Birmingham.
When this astonishing piece of CCTV footage
landed on the desk of Detective Chief Inspector Nick Walton.
Myself personally, an officer who's worked within West Midlands Police for 17 years now,
never in my policing experience
have I experienced anything of this magnitude.
It's 8.30 in the morning and only a few metres away from a nursery,
a car pulls up and blocks the road.
The intention - the men inside are about to deal out Class A drugs.
You will now see a group of people, a significant volume of people,
start to run down the main road towards that vehicle.
These people, we presume, have gathered at an agreed point,
have waited for the vehicle.
Perhaps waited for other drug users to go
so they get that confidence this is actually the drug dealer.
Away they go.
Like children running to an ice cream van,
more than 30 drug users rush towards the car.
The volume is unprecedented.
Clearly, within a residential street where at this time of day
officers would be patrolling, there's a real confidence
by this drug dealer to operate in this way.
The dealers in the car have taken over control of this street.
No other traffic can move up or down it.
Really concerning around the fact that is this normal business?
Is this just something that's become acceptable?
But the man who captured this footage was not going to put up with it.
They just pounced in the car.
All four corners like they were selling sweets.
All running around and it was mayhem.
At one stage, it was mayhem.
Mothers and kids were just gone to school.
Hiding their kids, dropping them off to school. It was shocking.
He watched the drug-dealing getting worse and worse
over the 20 years he lived there.
It was open. They were outside the bookies.
You were going past people and you could smell the bud.
And as the dealing increased, police began to worry about other crime.
If you've got 30 people gathering in a location, ready to buy drugs,
how have those 30 individuals gained that money at that time?
It's quite possible that crime in that area has escalated
as a consequence of them being there.
That dealer is a catalyst for an increase in crime in that area.
With a likely link between addiction and crime,
the massive problem highlighted by the Bordesley Green CCTV footage
needed to be dealt with urgently.
Nick Walton starts to mastermind a plan
to put the drug dealers behind bars.
Enough was enough. We needed to do something.
If we were going to gain the confidence of our community,
we needed be seen to do something about what is clearly
an endemic problem within the community.
Nick calls in a specialist team of undercover officers...
like this man.
We can't reveal his identity but we'll call him Paul.
Undercover officers, like Paul,
first have to get close to the drug gangs.
They get to know who to focus on
and then they use miniature surveillance equipment
to record the dealing.
My function is to try and gain the best footage that I can
of these people in order for the matter to go to court
and for the jury to understand exactly what is going on.
It is all about the patience but deep down you, sort of, know
and hope that you will get that shot eventually,
if you are patient enough.
What he manages the film leaves no doubt that heroin
and cocaine are being openly dealt throughout Bordesley Green.
Dealers have even taken over the local park
and children's playground.
We have been given access to the police surveillance footage.
What you are about to see is a transaction that will take place.
The man in the red top has handed a small amount of drugs
to the man in the blue top, with whom he is working,
and there you will see cash change hands from the drug user,
and in return for that cash, which is ordinarily £10, £20,
they will receive a small amount of heroin or crack cocaine.
Gathering this covert footage is essential work
but there are risks for the undercover officers.
Sometimes you have to take those chances.
Ultimately, if you get that footage then it's worthwhile
and you just hope that the, when it's played in court,
that the people see what's going on.
Look, this is a park area where children play.
One of the dealers has gone into the bushes, has clearly recovered
an amount and there we have just seen an exchange take place.
Where the drug user has put the item in his pocket
and will then leave the area.
Filming goes on for weeks...
..the dealers mobile phones give more evidence.
The phone is effectively the business.
Mobile phones were taking somewhere in the region
of 655 phone calls per day.
When those calls are analysed it is estimated that, between them,
the dealers are doing £8,000 worth of business a day.
After weeks of intensive evidence gathering, the operation moves into
the next stage, making the arrests, and is done on a huge scale.
Around 80 offices a day will bring in the dealers.
-Stay where you are!
'It's quite important, for us, to arrest them at the same time'
to prevent them, potentially, giving accounts, leaving the police station
and then telling other people what they have said to the police.
So, we have an opportunity to undermine them
by interviewing them all at the same time.
Also, we can catch them unawares.
The operation is a massive success.
They managed to get every one of the dealers they targeted.
There's at least 28, 29 people who are currently in custody.
Really pleasing for us,
the fact that those people felt that the evidential case against them
is so strong that they pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
And the icing on the cake?
Through work with other agencies, we've even managed to target
the person who sat at the head of that network
and he has also been convicted.
All these drug dealers went down...
..between them they will spend over 100 years in prison.
And, since the arrests,
burglaries and robberies have dropped locally by 20%.
The man whose footage kicked off this whole operation
has seen a big change in his neighbourhood.
It has been sorted out.
I've never seen no-one drug-dealing there no more.
It's fundamentally improved the area tenfold.
We went into that community shortly after
and started to have face-to-face dialogue with local community members
who clearly were telling us that the fact
that these individuals had been arrested
was key to them feeling more empowered
within their own communities.
The area was really rough.
There was loads of crimes and I think it's much better now.
Like, you can walk around safe.
Yeah, there's a massive difference. We are happy with what we're seeing.
What we've done is named and shamed, which, again,
has been really well received by the community.
We've even gone into local schools and had conversations with,
you know, the youth in the area to say, "This is not something
"you need to aspire to and if you do get involved in the drugs
"supply market you will be enforced against and you will go to prison."
The idea of naming and shaming is not just a police tactic.
There are a lot of examples of ordinary people using social media
and the internet to expose criminals,
as with our next victim of crime.
Joshua Kaufmann, here, had his laptop stolen from his flat
while he was at work.
Luckily, his laptop has a hidden secret -
Joshua has special tracking software on it,
which means if it's stolen it takes photos and sends them back
to the owner, over the internet, which is good news for Joshua
but very bad news for this guy, who, er, acquired it.
He's got no idea he is being filmed as he goes about a range
of activities with Joshua's computer watching him all the time.
From sleeping to sitting up in bed and, er, driving?!
Joshua received the pictures, set up a website
and posted the images online,
attracting a lot of attention from media and public.
Eventually, though, the laptop sends a vital clue -
a screenshot of the mystery man logging into a e-mail account.
The address links to a car service, for which he is a driver,
and the police charge him with possession of stolen property.
Joshua was reunited with his beloved laptop,
complete with a full set of holiday snaps covering its trip away.
Photos I suspect Joshua has filed away - in the bin!
Still to come on today's show - more rubbish.
A beautiful park but within it an ugly scene.
It's just not a nice thing to see. It destroys what beauty there is here.
These fly-tipper's think only the ducks are watching
as they dump rancid rubbish but their evil deed is caught on camera.
Also coming up, a bizarre burglary.
This guy hides for 13 hours in this wardrobe to escape discovery
but he's waited in vain.
On Caught Red Handed we've seen how some thieves are opportunistic -
an open door, an open window, perhaps?
But some are more calculating.
Like doorstep conmen who prey on society's most vulnerable.
Older people are less likely to be victims of crime, but there is
one type of criminal that targets the elderly and that is the bogus caller.
Sometimes, ramps and handrails can be an indicator as to
the vulnerability of people and that is why we suggest that
if you are getting a cold caller, you check their identity,
you ensure you have the chain on your door
and you don't open the door unless the chain is secured.
You ask them to pass through their identification which you then check,
and check with the company to ensure that they are a bona fide caller from the company they are from.
You shouldn't leave your front door and back open at the same time.
They often operate in pairs
and therefore whilst you are being held at the front door chatting to someone,
the accomplice could be using your back door to enter your property.
Next thing they know they have lost their money
they should have kept in the bank,
that they have kept under the mattress,
and it has a real impact on people.
Next, a cautionary tale of two conmen,
that disturbingly underlines what those police officers were saying.
This CCTV camera was installed in 86-year-old
Irene's home by her daughter,
and it earned its money the day it caught two callous criminals at work.
When it was put in we certainly didn't expect to ever find something like this.
While her mother Irene is distracted downstairs,
these two men are upstairs invading her bedrooms.
It has made my mum very frightened in her own home.
Irene lives alone in Dagenham, Essex. Her daughter, Susan, had become
increasingly concerned about her situation.
Always been quite independent, but unfortunately
in the last few months, she has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
There's three of us now that care for her,
and we try to do what we can, but you can't be there 24 hours a day.
Worried, the family decided to install a camera to keep an eye on their mother.
We put it in one of the smaller bedrooms to see how she was coping.
The fixed camera was hidden in a pretend smoke alarm so nothing looked out of the ordinary.
It picked up the whole of the landing in my mum's and you could not
get off the top of the stairs without getting past this doorway.
But the camera was about to catch something far more alarming
when Irene, at home, alone, had an unexpected visitor.
These people decided to knock at the door,
there was just one, originally, he was in the suit.
He said, "I am from the Water Board.
"I need to check the quality of the water, can I come in?"
Irene can't remember whether she asked for ID or not,
but the man at the door was very convincing.
They told my mum they were testing water quality and she would need
to fill up a saucepan
because if they cut the water off, she would want to make a cup of tea,
and she just filled one saucepan and put it on the cooker.
He said, "You better start clearing out that cupboard
"because we might need to fiddle around because that is where the pipes are."
As far as Irene can remember, the men inspected both sinks
and left shortly after.
It was only when she casually mentioned their visit later
that her family's suspicions were aroused.
My sister popped out the tape that accompanies this camera.
Normally it is just very boring, nothing.
But on that particular day, obviously, there was something.
And this is what they saw.
While their frail mum Irene is distracted downstairs
in the kitchen, filling up pans and clearing out the cupboard,
these two men, supposedly from the Water Board, sneak upstairs.
On the top of this landing, the first guy has gone into my mum's
room, the second one has gone into the second bedroom.
It does make you feel quite sick to actually look at it and think,
"They are ransacking through my mum's sentimental stuff."
Stuff that she has had for years, stuff my dad brought her.
That is her sanctuary, her domain. It is actually quite upsetting
to look and see strangers wandering around your mother's house like that.
And just in case there was any remaining doubt about what
these men are up to, a call to the actual Water Board
confirmed that these men were nothing to do with them. They were thieves.
I can't be 100% sure what they took from the house,
obviously, over the years, my mum has jewellery that my father had brought her.
All we know definitely is that there is money.
£200 in cash, her shopping and money for bills were stolen from the mantelpiece.
Susan handed the tape over to the police immediately,
but despite their best efforts, these robbers remain at large.
At Dagenham Police Station, PC Jodie Parish is dealing with
the case and has seen too many people get conned in this way.
The individuals are unscrupulous that carry out these crimes.
They can be male, female, all different ages with different accents
so it's important just if you're in doubt,
keep them out. Ring 999.
The police would much rather attend a false alarm
than another victim of distraction burglary.
If some good has come out of this, it is that the family
and Irene have taken steps to ensure she is not targeted again.
Most of utility companies,
you can set up a password for older people and it is just a bit of safety
that if somebody comes to your door you can say to them, "What is my password?"
If they don't know it, then you don't have to let them in.
Old folk do deserve more respect than this, quite truthfully,
and they should have it.
Many thefts are quick grab-and-gos but next, a burglary in Yelverton, Devon
that starts in broad daylight but ends a long, long time later.
Not that this teenage thief knows that yet
when he burst through the patio doors into somebody else's lounge.
Picking up a poker, he then starts poking around the house.
But he is interrupted by the homeowner coming back.
Startled, he goes upstairs to hide in this wardrobe
and sits on this shelf.
And there, he hides while the owner calls the police.
And although not recorded on these cameras,
he was forced to stay hiding there while the police arrived
to look around the house, including the very room was hiding in.
But luckily for him, they didn't check the wardrobe.
The police finally leave, but the house-owner stays,
so the thief stays, too.
In the wardrobe. For 13 hours.
Yes, a whole 13 hours later,
he's picked up on night vision cameras, re-emerging at nearly 5am.
You might think he would now want to get out of there as soon as
possible, but whether being confined for so long has dulled his senses
or he's been in the house so long that it now feels like home,
he decides to pad around for the next hour, looking for stuff to steal.
He even empties the homeowner's bag so he can fill it with loot.
Pausing briefly to eat a chocolate bar - also stolen.
My guess, 13 hours of hiding can make you hungry.
Eventually, just coming up to 6am, he finally decides to leave
with a camera, laptop and cash in his possession.
Now he runs?
But he didn't know that he had been secretly filmed the whole
time as the homeowner had these cameras installed
as a result of previous burglaries.
Understandably, very distressed to find that she had been
sharing her house for so long with a poker-wielding intruder,
she handed this footage over to the police.
The 18-year-old thief was eventually caught
and after admitting multiple other offences, he was sentenced
to five years imprisonment at a young person's institution.
As well as the obvious, like good locks and alarms,
there are other ways to repel a robber before they reach the house.
You need to create as many obstacles as you possibly can
to prevent yourself from being a victim of crime.
Is there an opportunity to introduce gravel?
A burglar cannot make a silent approach on gravel.
Consider having prickly hedges, spiky, thorny hedges that people
don't want to climb through or they will get cut to ribbons.
If you attach a trellis on top of the basic fence, it's harder
to climb over, it's higher.
Also trellis can snap easily.
A burglar does not want the threat of extra noise.
But the next offenders we are going to see didn't
worry about noise or being seen, will they committed their crime.
Queens Park, Bolton, established in 1887.
This Victorian park is one of the city's most notable beauty spots, appreciated by all.
Well, almost all.
To see people tipping, it is absolutely disgusting.
It destroys what beauty there is here, it is not a nice thing to see.
Over a two-year period, park wardens found an increasing amount of rotten
food waste was being dumped, in particular, right by the duck pond.
They contacted Bolton Council.
The content of the waste was actually kebab meat,
raw chicken carcasses,
large quantities of bread, mainly chapatti and naan type bread,
so it was generally the kind of waste that would be generated in a
fast-food takeaway type business.
Food outlets have to arrange special procedures to
dispose of the extra waste they generate,
and provide transfer notes to show they have done so.
This can incur a charge.
Because there's a transaction passing waste
and they wanted to avoid that because the waste came from a takeaway.
While these phantom fly-tippers may have thought
they have come up with a way to reduce their costs
and dispose of the evidence, Chris Whitehead of the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust
knew that the food they were dumping didn't fit a duck's bill, either.
A lot of the processed food has additives in it, like salt
and sugar, which would not do the birds any good.
As for the ditched meat, such a large amount of it going
rancid near the pond was a real menace.
Meat is one of the worst things to get into a pond like this,
if you can imagine putting a piece of chicken in a bowl of water
for a week and just leaving it, it would become really stinky.
Also, potentially at risk, park user's pets.
I have a dog, and my dog, they're all inquisitive, they always go over
to things and it does worry me. I do not want to see my dog
eating something and getting ill, because you cannot stop them.
It's too late by the time they've got to it.
We did receive reports from local dog-walking community
that one or two of the dogs had fallen ill
and it was suggested that could the possible link to
the kind of waste that was thrown into the duck pond and closure.
And with the illegal food waste continuing to be dumped,
Bolton Council knew they had to act.
We felt the best option would be to put a device in to monitor
the area to see what activity was taking place over the weekend period.
Cleaning up the results of fly-tipping
costs the council thousands of pounds each year, and they
already possessed some hi tech equipment designed to catch persistent offenders in the act.
The kit itself, which we actually use as part of this operation,
was this device here. This is what we call the Merlin Device.
It's actually designed to be buried underground.
We try to conceal it, as best as possible.
We attach cameras into the side of the device.
There is a cartridge here.
That will enable us to record up to three weeks,
so we can leave the device in situ for a long period of time.
So they had their gear... but where to put it?
Most of the activity was taking place here,
so what we felt the best situation
would be was if we put a camera directly on the island itself.
After concealing the device underground,
we aimed the cameras back to shore, but there was some concerns, maybe,
cos it's a favoured spot by the ducks, where they do congregate,
whether they would block the shots, so we weren't sure how this would turn out.
It actually turned out very well, indeed.
The first weekend the secret cameras were running - a result.
Saturday morning, just coming up to 9am.
Ducks minding their own business,
when two men come up to the fence
and, in clear sight, start tipping food waste.
It's just not right.
It's not the kind of material or food
that you would consider feeding to ducks.
The two men disappear off camera for just under a minute,
to dispose of their plastic bags.
After all, you wouldn't want to make a mess, would you(?)
But this time, they were unaware they're being caught on camera.
Somebody else had also taken exception.
Fortunately, a local dog walker did notice what was taking place.
She felt it was necessary to take some information, by recording
the registration number of the vehicle
the two gentlemen had travelled to this park in.
This was passed on to the council.
They got the owners' details
and asked him to attend an interview at the council offices.
During the interview, the gentleman, initially, denied
that he had ever been to Queen's Park,
despite putting several questions to him.
But when they showed him this film, he realised he couldn't, ahem,
duck out of this one.
At that point, he actually said it was him in the film
and he did actually commit the offence.
Mohammed Asghar pleaded guilty to fly-tipping.
He refused to identify his companion,
so he was the only one prosecuted.
He was fined £80 and £150 for investigation costs.
It was quite an overjoying moment, that we'd finally caught
the people responsible for tipping this waste into the duck enclosure.
The council could only prove one offence against the man,
but, funnily enough, ever since he and his partner
were caught on camera, there has been no more fly-tipping of food -
Something that all users of the park, including Alex here,
-are all very glad about.
-I hope they have learned their lesson
and I hope they now start behaving properly
and protect the environment, for everybody's enjoyment.
That's it for today.
Join us next time, when the police and the public
catch more criminals red-handed.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd