Episode 5 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 5

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.


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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 anti-social behaviour, the police are now

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

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They are launching covert operations...

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Pretend 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 is equipped with a tracking device.

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..that deliver unsuspecting crooks right into their hands.

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And there are also ways that we, the public, and local businesses

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can fight back with some tricks of our own.

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

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

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

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They may just get caught red-handed.

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Coming up today on Caught Red Handed -

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dramatic footage of people running towards a car to buy Class A drugs.

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Never in my policing experience

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have I experienced anything of this magnitude.

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The police launch a huge covert operation to catch the dealers.

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And in Essex, two men pretending to be from the Water Board

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have a more sinister purpose.

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It does make you feel quite sick to actually look at them

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and think, they're ransacking through my mum's sentimental stuff.

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Also today - this guy is knowingly using a stolen laptop,

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but what he doesn't know is that it's secretly filming him.

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West Midlands Police,

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forcing their way into the home of a suspected drug dealer.

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SHOUTING

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Stay where you are!

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It's the final stages of an operation that began

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three months earlier in the suburb of Bordesley Green, Birmingham.

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When this astonishing piece of CCTV footage

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landed on the desk of Detective Chief Inspector Nick Walton.

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Myself personally, an officer who's worked within West Midlands Police for 17 years now,

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never in my policing experience

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have I experienced anything of this magnitude.

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It's 8.30 in the morning and only a few metres away from a nursery,

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a car pulls up and blocks the road.

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The intention - the men inside are about to deal out Class A drugs.

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You will now see a group of people, a significant volume of people,

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start to run down the main road towards that vehicle.

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These people, we presume, have gathered at an agreed point,

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have waited for the vehicle.

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Perhaps waited for other drug users to go

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so they get that confidence this is actually the drug dealer.

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Away they go.

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Like children running to an ice cream van,

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more than 30 drug users rush towards the car.

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The volume is unprecedented.

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Clearly, within a residential street where at this time of day

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officers would be patrolling, there's a real confidence

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by this drug dealer to operate in this way.

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The dealers in the car have taken over control of this street.

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No other traffic can move up or down it.

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Really concerning around the fact that is this normal business?

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Is this just something that's become acceptable?

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But the man who captured this footage was not going to put up with it.

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They just pounced in the car.

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All four corners like they were selling sweets.

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All running around and it was mayhem.

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At one stage, it was mayhem.

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Mothers and kids were just gone to school.

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Hiding their kids, dropping them off to school. It was shocking.

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He watched the drug-dealing getting worse and worse

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over the 20 years he lived there.

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It was open. They were outside the bookies.

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You were going past people and you could smell the bud.

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And as the dealing increased, police began to worry about other crime.

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If you've got 30 people gathering in a location, ready to buy drugs,

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how have those 30 individuals gained that money at that time?

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It's quite possible that crime in that area has escalated

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as a consequence of them being there.

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That dealer is a catalyst for an increase in crime in that area.

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With a likely link between addiction and crime,

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the massive problem highlighted by the Bordesley Green CCTV footage

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needed to be dealt with urgently.

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Nick Walton starts to mastermind a plan

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to put the drug dealers behind bars.

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Enough was enough. We needed to do something.

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If we were going to gain the confidence of our community,

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we needed be seen to do something about what is clearly

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an endemic problem within the community.

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Nick calls in a specialist team of undercover officers...

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like this man.

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We can't reveal his identity but we'll call him Paul.

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Undercover officers, like Paul,

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first have to get close to the drug gangs.

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They get to know who to focus on

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and then they use miniature surveillance equipment

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to record the dealing.

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My function is to try and gain the best footage that I can

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of these people in order for the matter to go to court

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and for the jury to understand exactly what is going on.

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It is all about the patience but deep down you, sort of, know

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and hope that you will get that shot eventually,

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if you are patient enough.

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What he manages the film leaves no doubt that heroin

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and cocaine are being openly dealt throughout Bordesley Green.

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Dealers have even taken over the local park

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and children's playground.

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We have been given access to the police surveillance footage.

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What you are about to see is a transaction that will take place.

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The man in the red top has handed a small amount of drugs

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to the man in the blue top, with whom he is working,

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and there you will see cash change hands from the drug user,

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and in return for that cash, which is ordinarily £10, £20,

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they will receive a small amount of heroin or crack cocaine.

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Gathering this covert footage is essential work

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but there are risks for the undercover officers.

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Sometimes you have to take those chances.

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Ultimately, if you get that footage then it's worthwhile

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and you just hope that the, when it's played in court,

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that the people see what's going on.

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Look, this is a park area where children play.

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One of the dealers has gone into the bushes, has clearly recovered

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an amount and there we have just seen an exchange take place.

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Where the drug user has put the item in his pocket

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and will then leave the area.

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Filming goes on for weeks...

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..the dealers mobile phones give more evidence.

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The phone is effectively the business.

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Mobile phones were taking somewhere in the region

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of 655 phone calls per day.

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When those calls are analysed it is estimated that, between them,

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the dealers are doing £8,000 worth of business a day.

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After weeks of intensive evidence gathering, the operation moves into

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the next stage, making the arrests, and is done on a huge scale.

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Around 80 offices a day will bring in the dealers.

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POLICE!

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-POLICE!

-Stay where you are!

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'It's quite important, for us, to arrest them at the same time'

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to prevent them, potentially, giving accounts, leaving the police station

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and then telling other people what they have said to the police.

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So, we have an opportunity to undermine them

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by interviewing them all at the same time.

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Also, we can catch them unawares.

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The operation is a massive success.

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They managed to get every one of the dealers they targeted.

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There's at least 28, 29 people who are currently in custody.

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Really pleasing for us,

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the fact that those people felt that the evidential case against them

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is so strong that they pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

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And the icing on the cake?

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Through work with other agencies, we've even managed to target

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the person who sat at the head of that network

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and he has also been convicted.

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All these drug dealers went down...

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..between them they will spend over 100 years in prison.

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And, since the arrests,

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burglaries and robberies have dropped locally by 20%.

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The man whose footage kicked off this whole operation

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has seen a big change in his neighbourhood.

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It has been sorted out.

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I've never seen no-one drug-dealing there no more.

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It's fundamentally improved the area tenfold.

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We went into that community shortly after

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and started to have face-to-face dialogue with local community members

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who clearly were telling us that the fact

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that these individuals had been arrested

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was key to them feeling more empowered

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within their own communities.

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The area was really rough.

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There was loads of crimes and I think it's much better now.

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Like, you can walk around safe.

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Yeah, there's a massive difference. We are happy with what we're seeing.

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What we've done is named and shamed, which, again,

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has been really well received by the community.

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We've even gone into local schools and had conversations with,

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you know, the youth in the area to say, "This is not something

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"you need to aspire to and if you do get involved in the drugs

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"supply market you will be enforced against and you will go to prison."

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The idea of naming and shaming is not just a police tactic.

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There are a lot of examples of ordinary people using social media

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and the internet to expose criminals,

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as with our next victim of crime.

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Joshua Kaufmann, here, had his laptop stolen from his flat

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while he was at work.

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Luckily, his laptop has a hidden secret -

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Joshua has special tracking software on it,

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which means if it's stolen it takes photos and sends them back

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to the owner, over the internet, which is good news for Joshua

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but very bad news for this guy, who, er, acquired it.

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He's got no idea he is being filmed as he goes about a range

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of activities with Joshua's computer watching him all the time.

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From sleeping to sitting up in bed and, er, driving?!

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Joshua received the pictures, set up a website

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and posted the images online,

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attracting a lot of attention from media and public.

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Eventually, though, the laptop sends a vital clue -

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a screenshot of the mystery man logging into a e-mail account.

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The address links to a car service, for which he is a driver,

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and the police charge him with possession of stolen property.

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Joshua was reunited with his beloved laptop,

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complete with a full set of holiday snaps covering its trip away.

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Photos I suspect Joshua has filed away - in the bin!

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Still to come on today's show - more rubbish.

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A beautiful park but within it an ugly scene.

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It's just not a nice thing to see. It destroys what beauty there is here.

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These fly-tipper's think only the ducks are watching

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as they dump rancid rubbish but their evil deed is caught on camera.

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Also coming up, a bizarre burglary.

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This guy hides for 13 hours in this wardrobe to escape discovery

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but he's waited in vain.

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On Caught Red Handed we've seen how some thieves are opportunistic -

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an open door, an open window, perhaps?

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But some are more calculating.

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Like doorstep conmen who prey on society's most vulnerable.

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Older people are less likely to be victims of crime, but there is

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one type of criminal that targets the elderly and that is the bogus caller.

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Sometimes, ramps and handrails can be an indicator as to

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the vulnerability of people and that is why we suggest that

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if you are getting a cold caller, you check their identity,

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you ensure you have the chain on your door

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and you don't open the door unless the chain is secured.

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You ask them to pass through their identification which you then check,

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and check with the company to ensure that they are a bona fide caller from the company they are from.

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You shouldn't leave your front door and back open at the same time.

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They often operate in pairs

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and therefore whilst you are being held at the front door chatting to someone,

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the accomplice could be using your back door to enter your property.

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Next thing they know they have lost their money

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they should have kept in the bank,

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that they have kept under the mattress,

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and it has a real impact on people.

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Next, a cautionary tale of two conmen,

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that disturbingly underlines what those police officers were saying.

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This CCTV camera was installed in 86-year-old

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Irene's home by her daughter,

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and it earned its money the day it caught two callous criminals at work.

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When it was put in we certainly didn't expect to ever find something like this.

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While her mother Irene is distracted downstairs,

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these two men are upstairs invading her bedrooms.

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It has made my mum very frightened in her own home.

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Irene lives alone in Dagenham, Essex. Her daughter, Susan, had become

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increasingly concerned about her situation.

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Always been quite independent, but unfortunately

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in the last few months, she has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

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There's three of us now that care for her,

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and we try to do what we can, but you can't be there 24 hours a day.

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Worried, the family decided to install a camera to keep an eye on their mother.

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We put it in one of the smaller bedrooms to see how she was coping.

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The fixed camera was hidden in a pretend smoke alarm so nothing looked out of the ordinary.

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It picked up the whole of the landing in my mum's and you could not

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get off the top of the stairs without getting past this doorway.

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But the camera was about to catch something far more alarming

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when Irene, at home, alone, had an unexpected visitor.

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These people decided to knock at the door,

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there was just one, originally, he was in the suit.

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He said, "I am from the Water Board.

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"I need to check the quality of the water, can I come in?"

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Irene can't remember whether she asked for ID or not,

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but the man at the door was very convincing.

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They told my mum they were testing water quality and she would need

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to fill up a saucepan

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because if they cut the water off, she would want to make a cup of tea,

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and she just filled one saucepan and put it on the cooker.

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He said, "You better start clearing out that cupboard

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"because we might need to fiddle around because that is where the pipes are."

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As far as Irene can remember, the men inspected both sinks

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and left shortly after.

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It was only when she casually mentioned their visit later

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that her family's suspicions were aroused.

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My sister popped out the tape that accompanies this camera.

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Normally it is just very boring, nothing.

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But on that particular day, obviously, there was something.

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And this is what they saw.

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While their frail mum Irene is distracted downstairs

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in the kitchen, filling up pans and clearing out the cupboard,

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these two men, supposedly from the Water Board, sneak upstairs.

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On the top of this landing, the first guy has gone into my mum's

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room, the second one has gone into the second bedroom.

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It does make you feel quite sick to actually look at it and think,

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"They are ransacking through my mum's sentimental stuff."

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Stuff that she has had for years, stuff my dad brought her.

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That is her sanctuary, her domain. It is actually quite upsetting

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to look and see strangers wandering around your mother's house like that.

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And just in case there was any remaining doubt about what

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these men are up to, a call to the actual Water Board

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confirmed that these men were nothing to do with them. They were thieves.

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I can't be 100% sure what they took from the house,

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obviously, over the years, my mum has jewellery that my father had brought her.

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All we know definitely is that there is money.

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£200 in cash, her shopping and money for bills were stolen from the mantelpiece.

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Susan handed the tape over to the police immediately,

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but despite their best efforts, these robbers remain at large.

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At Dagenham Police Station, PC Jodie Parish is dealing with

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the case and has seen too many people get conned in this way.

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The individuals are unscrupulous that carry out these crimes.

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They can be male, female, all different ages with different accents

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so it's important just if you're in doubt,

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keep them out. Ring 999.

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The police would much rather attend a false alarm

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than another victim of distraction burglary.

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If some good has come out of this, it is that the family

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and Irene have taken steps to ensure she is not targeted again.

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Most of utility companies,

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you can set up a password for older people and it is just a bit of safety

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that if somebody comes to your door you can say to them, "What is my password?"

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If they don't know it, then you don't have to let them in.

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Old folk do deserve more respect than this, quite truthfully,

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and they should have it.

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Many thefts are quick grab-and-gos but next, a burglary in Yelverton, Devon

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that starts in broad daylight but ends a long, long time later.

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Not that this teenage thief knows that yet

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when he burst through the patio doors into somebody else's lounge.

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Picking up a poker, he then starts poking around the house.

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But he is interrupted by the homeowner coming back.

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Startled, he goes upstairs to hide in this wardrobe

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and sits on this shelf.

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And there, he hides while the owner calls the police.

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And although not recorded on these cameras,

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he was forced to stay hiding there while the police arrived

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to look around the house, including the very room was hiding in.

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But luckily for him, they didn't check the wardrobe.

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The police finally leave, but the house-owner stays,

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so the thief stays, too.

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In the wardrobe. For 13 hours.

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Yes, a whole 13 hours later,

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he's picked up on night vision cameras, re-emerging at nearly 5am.

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You might think he would now want to get out of there as soon as

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possible, but whether being confined for so long has dulled his senses

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or he's been in the house so long that it now feels like home,

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he decides to pad around for the next hour, looking for stuff to steal.

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He even empties the homeowner's bag so he can fill it with loot.

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Pausing briefly to eat a chocolate bar - also stolen.

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My guess, 13 hours of hiding can make you hungry.

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Eventually, just coming up to 6am, he finally decides to leave

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with a camera, laptop and cash in his possession.

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Now he runs?

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But he didn't know that he had been secretly filmed the whole

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time as the homeowner had these cameras installed

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as a result of previous burglaries.

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Understandably, very distressed to find that she had been

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sharing her house for so long with a poker-wielding intruder,

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she handed this footage over to the police.

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The 18-year-old thief was eventually caught

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and after admitting multiple other offences, he was sentenced

0:20:430:20:47

to five years imprisonment at a young person's institution.

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As well as the obvious, like good locks and alarms,

0:20:570:21:00

there are other ways to repel a robber before they reach the house.

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You need to create as many obstacles as you possibly can

0:21:050:21:07

to prevent yourself from being a victim of crime.

0:21:070:21:09

Is there an opportunity to introduce gravel?

0:21:090:21:12

A burglar cannot make a silent approach on gravel.

0:21:120:21:15

Consider having prickly hedges, spiky, thorny hedges that people

0:21:150:21:18

don't want to climb through or they will get cut to ribbons.

0:21:180:21:21

If you attach a trellis on top of the basic fence, it's harder

0:21:210:21:25

to climb over, it's higher.

0:21:250:21:27

Also trellis can snap easily.

0:21:270:21:29

A burglar does not want the threat of extra noise.

0:21:290:21:31

But the next offenders we are going to see didn't

0:21:340:21:37

worry about noise or being seen, will they committed their crime.

0:21:370:21:41

Queens Park, Bolton, established in 1887.

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This Victorian park is one of the city's most notable beauty spots, appreciated by all.

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Well, almost all.

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To see people tipping, it is absolutely disgusting.

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It destroys what beauty there is here, it is not a nice thing to see.

0:22:130:22:17

Over a two-year period, park wardens found an increasing amount of rotten

0:22:230:22:28

food waste was being dumped, in particular, right by the duck pond.

0:22:280:22:32

They contacted Bolton Council.

0:22:340:22:36

The content of the waste was actually kebab meat,

0:22:370:22:40

raw chicken carcasses,

0:22:400:22:42

large quantities of bread, mainly chapatti and naan type bread,

0:22:420:22:47

so it was generally the kind of waste that would be generated in a

0:22:470:22:51

fast-food takeaway type business.

0:22:510:22:53

Food outlets have to arrange special procedures to

0:22:530:22:57

dispose of the extra waste they generate,

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and provide transfer notes to show they have done so.

0:22:590:23:02

This can incur a charge.

0:23:020:23:04

Because there's a transaction passing waste

0:23:040:23:07

and they wanted to avoid that because the waste came from a takeaway.

0:23:070:23:11

While these phantom fly-tippers may have thought

0:23:120:23:15

they have come up with a way to reduce their costs

0:23:150:23:18

and dispose of the evidence, Chris Whitehead of the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust

0:23:180:23:23

knew that the food they were dumping didn't fit a duck's bill, either.

0:23:230:23:27

A lot of the processed food has additives in it, like salt

0:23:270:23:30

and sugar, which would not do the birds any good.

0:23:300:23:33

As for the ditched meat, such a large amount of it going

0:23:350:23:38

rancid near the pond was a real menace.

0:23:380:23:41

Meat is one of the worst things to get into a pond like this,

0:23:410:23:44

if you can imagine putting a piece of chicken in a bowl of water

0:23:440:23:47

for a week and just leaving it, it would become really stinky.

0:23:470:23:52

Also, potentially at risk, park user's pets.

0:23:530:23:57

I have a dog, and my dog, they're all inquisitive, they always go over

0:23:570:24:00

to things and it does worry me. I do not want to see my dog

0:24:000:24:04

eating something and getting ill, because you cannot stop them.

0:24:040:24:07

It's too late by the time they've got to it.

0:24:070:24:10

We did receive reports from local dog-walking community

0:24:100:24:13

that one or two of the dogs had fallen ill

0:24:130:24:15

and it was suggested that could the possible link to

0:24:150:24:17

the kind of waste that was thrown into the duck pond and closure.

0:24:170:24:20

And with the illegal food waste continuing to be dumped,

0:24:210:24:25

Bolton Council knew they had to act.

0:24:250:24:27

We felt the best option would be to put a device in to monitor

0:24:270:24:30

the area to see what activity was taking place over the weekend period.

0:24:300:24:35

Cleaning up the results of fly-tipping

0:24:350:24:37

costs the council thousands of pounds each year, and they

0:24:370:24:41

already possessed some hi tech equipment designed to catch persistent offenders in the act.

0:24:410:24:46

The kit itself, which we actually use as part of this operation,

0:24:490:24:52

was this device here. This is what we call the Merlin Device.

0:24:520:24:56

It's actually designed to be buried underground.

0:24:560:24:58

We try to conceal it, as best as possible.

0:24:580:25:00

We attach cameras into the side of the device.

0:25:000:25:03

There is a cartridge here.

0:25:030:25:05

That will enable us to record up to three weeks,

0:25:050:25:08

so we can leave the device in situ for a long period of time.

0:25:080:25:14

So they had their gear... but where to put it?

0:25:140:25:16

Most of the activity was taking place here,

0:25:170:25:20

so what we felt the best situation

0:25:200:25:22

would be was if we put a camera directly on the island itself.

0:25:220:25:25

After concealing the device underground,

0:25:260:25:30

we aimed the cameras back to shore, but there was some concerns, maybe,

0:25:300:25:34

cos it's a favoured spot by the ducks, where they do congregate,

0:25:340:25:37

whether they would block the shots, so we weren't sure how this would turn out.

0:25:370:25:41

It actually turned out very well, indeed.

0:25:440:25:47

The first weekend the secret cameras were running - a result.

0:25:470:25:51

Saturday morning, just coming up to 9am.

0:25:530:25:56

Ducks minding their own business,

0:25:560:25:58

when two men come up to the fence

0:25:580:26:00

and, in clear sight, start tipping food waste.

0:26:000:26:03

It's just not right.

0:26:050:26:07

It's not the kind of material or food

0:26:070:26:11

that you would consider feeding to ducks.

0:26:110:26:13

The two men disappear off camera for just under a minute,

0:26:130:26:16

to dispose of their plastic bags.

0:26:160:26:18

After all, you wouldn't want to make a mess, would you(?)

0:26:180:26:23

But this time, they were unaware they're being caught on camera.

0:26:230:26:26

Somebody else had also taken exception.

0:26:260:26:29

Fortunately, a local dog walker did notice what was taking place.

0:26:290:26:33

She felt it was necessary to take some information, by recording

0:26:330:26:38

the registration number of the vehicle

0:26:380:26:40

the two gentlemen had travelled to this park in.

0:26:400:26:43

This was passed on to the council.

0:26:430:26:45

They got the owners' details

0:26:450:26:47

and asked him to attend an interview at the council offices.

0:26:470:26:50

During the interview, the gentleman, initially, denied

0:26:520:26:55

that he had ever been to Queen's Park,

0:26:550:26:57

despite putting several questions to him.

0:26:570:27:00

But when they showed him this film, he realised he couldn't, ahem,

0:27:000:27:05

duck out of this one.

0:27:050:27:07

At that point, he actually said it was him in the film

0:27:070:27:11

and he did actually commit the offence.

0:27:110:27:14

Mohammed Asghar pleaded guilty to fly-tipping.

0:27:150:27:19

He refused to identify his companion,

0:27:190:27:21

so he was the only one prosecuted.

0:27:210:27:24

He was fined £80 and £150 for investigation costs.

0:27:240:27:28

It was quite an overjoying moment, that we'd finally caught

0:27:290:27:33

the people responsible for tipping this waste into the duck enclosure.

0:27:330:27:36

The council could only prove one offence against the man,

0:27:360:27:40

but, funnily enough, ever since he and his partner

0:27:400:27:43

were caught on camera, there has been no more fly-tipping of food -

0:27:430:27:47

Something that all users of the park, including Alex here,

0:27:470:27:51

-are all very glad about.

-I hope they have learned their lesson

0:27:510:27:55

and I hope they now start behaving properly

0:27:550:27:57

and protect the environment, for everybody's enjoyment.

0:27:570:28:00

That's it for today.

0:28:080:28:09

Join us next time, when the police and the public

0:28:090:28:12

catch more criminals red-handed.

0:28:120:28:14

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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