A look at innovative ways of catching criminals. In this episode, a husband and wife team set a cunning trap to catch an employee who is stealing from their sweet shop.
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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 anti-social behaviour, the police
are using new tactics where the bad guys get caught in the act.
They're launching covert operations...
Keep pretending you're talking on the phone for a bit longer.
..and setting clever traps...
The laptop he's about to steal is equipped with a tracking device.
-..that deliver unsuspecting crooks...
-Go, go, go!
..right into their hands. And there are also ways that we the public
and local businesses can fight back with some tricks of our own.
I weren't going to sit back and let them do this.
I know what you look like and I know who you are.
We've caught you and we're sending you down.
So anyone who's up to no good had better think twice.
They might just get caught red-handed.
Coming up today,
caught with his hands in the till.
A couple who own a sweet shop set a trap
and lay in wait for their thief.
All the hair on the back of my arms suddenly started rising
and then we heard the doorbell go and we knew our robber had arrived.
And the scrap that's a trap.
A man helps himself to a pile of metal, unaware it's a police set-up.
He's right in front of you.
If you try and take it away, we will come after you.
Also today, this burglar is about to be cornered,
thanks to some clever technology.
In the centre of this historical town,
Jane and Neil Hutton run a traditional sweet shop.
And they recently had to use a combination of old-fashioned
sleuthing and modern technology to bag a thief who was
threatening their livelihood.
Handling the day-to-day running of the business,
Jane noticed the sweet shop's fortunes were starting to turn sour.
I was conscious that I was not banking
the amount of money I expected.
The cause of the missing money remained a mystery,
but a few weeks later, there came a turning point.
Like many shopkeepers,
Jane left a cash float in the till ready for morning trading.
For some reason on the Monday morning, something made me
count the number of notes we'd left in the till.
And it was not the float that I had expected to be there.
Suspicions aroused, Jane leaves exactly the same amount of money
in the till that night as well.
And morning brings exactly the same result.
Some is missing.
It was very clear that we had something going on in the shop
between it closing and it opening in the morning.
The money is going while Jane and Neil are at their home
outside Marlow and the shop is left unattended.
But who is taking it?
Well, with no sign of an obvious break-in,
it points to somebody with a key.
And the only people issued with keys are staff members.
Even if it wasn't any of our lovely staff,
it could have been their fathers or their brothers.
Some of them had keys. Therefore, they might have had a copy made.
Maybe a friend had a copy of the key. I wasn't sleeping. I was so worried.
In the meantime, the couple go to the police, who advise them
to mark the notes they leave in the till.
But Jane and Neil know they really need to catch somebody red-handed.
We did quite a lot of lurking in alleyways,
just trying to be incognito,
but we're so well known in the town
that people would stop and say hello. We'd have to think,
"Right, don't look at us, we're supposed to be surveillance."
But we didn't see anyone open the door anyway.
Time for a tactical upgrade.
We needed to get some proof of who was coming in at night
and the obvious way to do that was with a concealed camera like this.
So that then looks directly at the till and shows us
who's coming in and what they're doing.
And just two nights later, success.
It's nearly 1.30am. A shadowy figure enters the shop.
First, he goes into the storeroom, possibly to make it look like
he's innocently checking something, in case anyone saw him come in.
But then he emerges, crouched down, to raid a till off camera.
Then, in full view, he sidles over to the second till,
keeping low to avoid being illuminated by the glare of
the street lights outside, he starts to help himself to the banknotes.
For Jane and Neil, it's an unpleasant watch.
Somebody they know isn't as sweet natured as they'd appeared to be.
I felt completely and utterly sick.
I saw our robber on the screen and I instantly knew who it was.
It was our newest member of staff and I couldn't believe it.
I just couldn't believe it
because here was a guy I'd been chatting to and laughing to
and training, putting all my effort in to help him
cos he was about to go off to university to do drama or something
and my heart sank.
The employee, it seems, has been taking the same amount
of money from both tills to make it appear like a book-keeping error.
Unfortunately, when they show this footage to the police,
the couple are told the picture quality isn't enough
for a 100% identification in front of a court.
But what about the marked notes he stole?
He could claim, even though he had the marked notes in his pocket,
if we picked him up the next day,
that perhaps he'd received it as change somewhere else in the town.
And so we can't convict on this, we need better.
OK, so we requested that they put officers in the shop overnight
and they didn't have the resources to do it.
So we thought long and hard and thought,
"OK, it's going to have to be us."
Jane and Neil begin hatching a plan to trap their turncoat staff member.
And later, it leads to a tense confrontation.
My mouth was completely dry. It happened in seconds.
It was very quick.
Money must be at the top of most thieves' wish-list, I'm sure.
But it seems nowadays more unlikely items are also desirable.
Burglars aren't just stealing jewellery, computers,
laptops nowadays. They're also targeting boilers and radiators.
There has been of late an increase in metal theft
due to the high values scrap has been paying.
Anything with a resale value is actually a target.
5am on a Wednesday morning.
Catching metal thieves
is the goal of council enforcement officer Shaun Carter,
who, for now, sits and waits.
We're even up before the owls this morning.
Shaun's set a trap and is waiting for the signal that this operation is about to start.
Yep, we're all done.
And we can now retire to a safe distance
and await today's performance.
Shaun and the East Sussex Police
are after a very particular type of crook.
It's a national problem and the area of Rother has recently had more than
its fair share with a succession of raids on residential properties.
-How's it been?
-Today is probably the worst day you could have turned up.
The crooks will then bring the stolen metal to scrap yards in exchange for cash.
Owners of the yards, such as Sharon, are expected to keep paperwork on each transaction.
Eat your heart out, thank you.
Shaun, representing Rother District Council,
and PC Nigel Collins are here to check the books.
We're just checking that everything's in order, that the
-addresses are filled in correctly.
-We're looking for any...
If there's a particular person that seems suspicious to us,
or is bringing lots of metal in at different locations or
scrap yards, we may need to check out where they're getting
their metal from, if that coincides with any recent thefts in the area.
Sharon's yard is all above board.
Opportunist thieves are always on the lookout for metal
and they don't care where it comes from.
They will help themselves to your garden furniture,
your water features and barbecues.
Anything they can get their hands on. It's the same as being burgled.
You feel violated.
If we have to take the game to these people,
then that's certainly what I'll do.
And now Shaun is taking the game to the thieves.
In a hot spot for this kind of crime,
he's arranged to leave out a load of items at a private residence.
The difference is this stuff will be trackable
and he's hoping that a thief will take the bait.
What we've got is a quantity of scrap metal, general household type, electrical goods.
We'll leave them in a position that naturally the occupant would have been putting them in.
I think they'd be pretty interested in that.
The house Shaun's using for this operation belongs to Samantha.
Last month, she and her partner emptied their garage
so they could paint it, leaving their stuff on the drive.
When they popped out to pick up their five-year-old son
Finlay from school, they returned to find that amongst other things, his bicycle had been stolen.
Finlay's bike was his pride and joy, really.
When we got back and realised the stuff had been stolen,
his face just dropped.
He was so heartbroken that his favourite bike, his new bike had been taken.
Samantha doesn't want anyone else to suffer like little Finlay.
So she readily agreed to let Shaun use her driveway to help clamp down on metal thieves.
I was quite happy to get involved with it
because we weren't putting our stuff out to be taken.
How many other people are there out there having the same done
to them as well?
So Samantha's driveway's filled with items, but this time,
she and council officer Shaun want it to be taken to catch out a thief.
Shaun wants to fit a tracking device before daylight comes
and he can be seen setting the trap.
The devices I'm going to be placing are multifunctional.
(I've done it often enough.)
Firstly, you have the anti-handling device, so if anybody moves
anything, automatically we will be informed straightaway.
(I'll put this in here, just so that we can keep it nice and safe.)
For secrecy, Shaun doesn't want to show us the tracking device up close.
But once he's placed it and activated it, then he'll be
able to follow its signal if somebody lifts this washing machine.
(I'm making sure it's nice and secure.)
As well as the tracker, all the pieces in this pile have been marked
with invisible dye and photographed for later identification.
The battery in the tracker will last for two days,
during which time, Sussex Police are on alert
in case somebody takes a fancy to this pile of baited scrap metal.
If somebody does decide that they'll chance their arm,
we will know and we will go in pursuit of that vehicle.
Whatever time, over the next 48 hours.
Shaun has a message for any would-be thieves.
If you try and take it away, we will come after you.
Later, it doesn't take long before somebody does take the metal.
Have a hit on the 259.
And true to his word, Shaun and the police are hot on their trail.
-He's right in front of you.
Still to come on today's Caught Red Handed,
sweet shop owners Jane and Neil are also hot on the heels of a crook
and their clever plan is about to lead to some sweet revenge.
He was inches, literally a foot, from where my leg was.
And we were just motionless.
Also still to come, we meet three hapless house burglars.
See how they all picked the wrong place to break into.
With surveillance equipment becoming more available and affordable,
ordinary citizens like you and me can turn the tables on the crooks.
This apartment belongs to a Frenchman called Lavante.
This is not him.
This is a thief who has scrambled up the fire escape,
broken in through the window, and is rifling through Lavante's stuff.
And this is the sight that was beamed through live
to Lavante's work computer.
Just in case this kind of thing happened,
Lavante had motion sensor cameras rigged up in his flat that,
if triggered, would alert him immediately.
Lavante called the cops before running home.
Shortly after this footage was shot, he banged on the door,
disturbing the crook, who then fled back out the window.
But he didn't get far.
Police arrested him in the alley below.
Back in Marlow... You'll remember Jane and Neil
are also trying to catch themselves a thief.
Money has been missing from the tills in their sweet shop
over a number of weeks. What's worse,
they suspect a 20-year-old trusted member of staff
who they know has been using his key to sneak into the premises
in the middle of the night and raid the tills.
Obviously, they're feeling...
Gutted. Just absolutely gutted.
They caught him on this hidden camera
and took the footage to the police.
But were advised it wasn't necessarily enough on its own
to secure a conviction.
The police were lovely, they were supportive,
but we quickly realised it was Neil and me saving Beehive Treats.
Knowing who they were dealing with, the couple felt
they could physically catch this thief themselves.
We weren't going up against an unknown criminal with unknown weapons.
We had to design a plan to A, catch the guy,
and B, do so in a way that kept us safe.
The big advantage that we had is we understood his pattern,
so we knew exactly when he was coming in,
where he was going through the shop and how he was exiting.
They decide to hide out on the stairs near the back
of the shop, ready to jump the thief when he passes.
The danger with that is that we'd fall asleep cos
we're talking about three o'clock in the morning.
So we had to set a number of traps within the shop that would
warn us exactly where he was.
Neil and Jane aimed to create a little shop of horrors
for a thief in the night.
By one till, they put a bottle of window cleaner that will
cause a thump if he knocks it over.
This was something he would have used
as one of his duties in the shop anyway,
so it would look like someone had left there by mistake.
And next to the other till, a noisy, rustly rubbish bag.
He then comes out and progresses towards the fire exit through here.
Our hiding place is just here. Obviously, he can't see us
because we've blacked everything out and we're wearing black.
And this is where he hits the final trap, some soft drink cans on the floor.
The couple set this last obstacle for their own safety
so they could check the thief was definitely on his own.
We wanted to be able to inspect him,
make sure our plan was going accordingly
and let him go if we needed to.
So the mousetrap is set.
After closing the shop,
Jane and Neil took their places on the stairs.
They sit for hours, drifting in and out of sleep, when...
The outside seemed very calm and quiet.
I could suddenly feel...all the hairs on the back of my arms
suddenly started rising.
Neil woke up and I could hear him grip my wrist and we both sat there
in this heightened sense of kind of buzziness
and then suddenly we heard the doorbell go of the main shop.
And we knew our robber had arrived.
The staff member is used to the bell but he certainly isn't expecting
the window cleaner and bin bag that have been placed in his path.
And those surprisingly all worked. We heard every last step of the way.
Despite the inconvenience, it's business as usual
for the young man, as he stuffs his pockets with banknotes.
-After, he moves towards the back room.
-He then went to the loo.
At three o'clock in the morning, you can really hear that!
He was a very polite robber, cos he did flush.
As the couple sit hiding in the dark,
the thief clatters into the cans right in front of them.
And then he had to look down in order to see what was going on,
put the cans back, one of which he put in his pocket.
And he put the light of his mobile phone on to allow him
to place the cans, inches, literally a foot, away from where my leg was.
And we were just motionless.
The youth then moves towards the final door to make his getaway
when Neil pounces.
Threw him against the wall, frisked him for weapons and put him to the floor.
My mouth was completely dry.
It happened in seconds, it was very quick.
As soon as Neil said,
"Phone the police," I instantly pressed 999, go.
-'I've apprehended a villain in my shop,
'he has broken in and he has stolen money in my shop.
'Please send assistance immediately.'
The police responded incredibly quickly with three squad cars
of big burly chaps who came rushing in and took on from there.
-So mission accomplished.
The 20-year-old thief has no option but to plead guilty to burglary.
He's given a 12-month supervision order
and told to do 40 hours' unpaid work.
He also had to pay back what he stole on the night.
It was a lot of money, he stole, over the period.
We think he probably took about £2,000,
which is an awful lot of sweets
that we have to sell in order to make up that difference.
It's not just the money, it's the hurt.
We really liked him. We'd had compliments about him from some of the customers.
He was well liked by everybody. This was just a massive act that we were taken in by as well.
At least life is sweet once more.
When we got married, Neil did promise me that I'd have a life of adventure.
Well, I didn't expect it to be like this.
Police often don't have the time actually to lie in wait for thieves.
Instead, they can use other innovative ways to catch
burglars on their beat.
You've heard of walls having ears. In some houses, they have eyes.
In the Benwell district of Newcastle,
this chap has just bust in through the window of what
he believes to be a student house left unguarded.
In fact, it's a Northumbria Police bait house
that they've rigged with secret cameras. He's being recorded.
After a few minutes, he's greedily filled a laundry basket,
that's not his own either, with goodies
and prepares to make his getaway.
Unfortunately for him, these goods are electronically trackable
and he's forced to air his dirty laundry
when the police knock at his door later.
In the early hours of the morning, this thief thinks nothing of hauling
a rather large television out of the window...
..before coming back
to swipe a laptop, computer keyboard and monitor.
But he doesn't know he's being monitored and this 26-year-old was
later tracked down and convicted,
receiving a 12-month community order
and forced to carry out 100 hours' unpaid work.
But some people don't need to be tracked down to establish their identity.
This 31-year-old man jumping in through the window of another
bait house here is instantly recognisable to officers
when they later view this footage.
He was already on a suspended prison sentence for a robbery
in his own block of flats.
And he's already amassed 50 convictions for other offences
by the time he comes to merrily steal a TV, DVD player,
sat nav and two phones from this property.
As a result, he received 23 months inside.
So successful were these sting houses that 13 people were
arrested in just one week.
And in the weeks following the operation,
there were no burglaries in the Benwell area at all.
But thieves aren't just interested in what's inside our houses,
they'll happily help themselves to items from our garages,
gardens and driveways, if they think it's of value to them.
With metal theft from domestic properties
currently rife in the East Sussex area,
earlier, council officer Shaun Carter has set up a sting operation.
Under cover of dark, he has deliberately left
a pile of metal items on the drive of this private residence as bait.
CCTV cameras are recording.
And concealed inside the washing machine is a tracking device.
If one of these metal thieves takes it,
Shaun and the police will hunt them down.
What will happen is that if this gear is tampered with,
it will let me know immediately via my smartphone.
While they wait to see if the bait's taken, they carry out spot checks
on passing vehicles to see if they're carrying metal
for scrap illegally.
Metal theft is a growing problem.
The prices of scrap metal have gone through the roof
in the last 12-18 months,
which makes it a much more valuable commodity.
But the problem is that the thieves are not just taking what they perceive to be scrap metal.
They are also taking the opportunity
to nose around people's private property
and swipe anything else that catches their eye.
Thank you very much indeed for your time.
Trespassing on people's land, they may go on to break into
that person's property and steal ornaments, jewellery.
We've had recent cases where people have confronted burglars and come off worse.
We're looking at disrupting them, making it clear it is theft
and if it's not theirs to take, they shouldn't be taking it.
It's coming up to midday when...
MOBILE RINGS OK, we've just... Appear to have a hit on the 259.
Shaun's tracking device has alerted him that somebody is helping
themselves to the bait pile of metal he set out earlier this morning.
They currently look like they want to pick the scrap off the drive.
It's only been out in daylight for five hours.
He's just closing his vehicle. He's removing the scrap.
-They also currently have an eyewitness at the scene.
Can you just keep us updated on this phone, yeah?
The thief's number plate has been noted. And his description.
Male, 35-40, travelling east towards Rye
in a Peugeot van with double doors at the back.
But some bad news is about to come through for Shaun.
Has he left anything on the drive?
Thank you. Just my luck(!)
Apparently, the suspect's van is too small to take the washing
machine that contains the tracking device, so he's left it on the drive.
Sod's law, isn't it?
They can't track him, so they need to find him
before he dumps the metal. So it's a challenge.
Search the area and find the right scrap yard in time.
Safe to say it's not in there.
But then, a breakthrough.
Just picked up the vehicle, it's heading out of Rye town centre.
A traffic patrol car saw the van go past, so Shaun and the team
now know which scrap yard he's likely to have gone to.
He's right in front of you.
Can you tell us what you've been doing here, at all?
Dropped some metal off.
-You took some out here to be destroyed?
-Where did you get the metal from?
-Off a job I was on.
-OK. Got the address of the job?
-Um, no, I haven't.
-You've got no transfer notes?
The man sticks to his story.
So they march him back to the scrap metal he has just sold to the yard.
And as he gets nearer, he starts to change his story.
-I was on the way home in Hastings...
No, I picked it up on the way home to Hastings.
Luckily, the items aren't yet buried in the metal haystack.
Shaun recognises the bike and other gear he placed this morning.
But to remove all doubt, he brings out his ultraviolet torch to
show up the invisible dye they've been marked with.
-Can you read what that says?
-Rye Police. OK?
The CCTV footage proves that he took the metal from the driveway of someone's house.
Something he eventually admits to, which makes it stealing.
The man confesses once he's in the back of the police car.
Yeah, but... Bang to rights.
We're going to go down to the local police station, which will be Rye.
We'll speak to him there on tape and if he admits on the tape,
he'll be summonsed to court to appear at court over the next couple of weeks.
Now a new law has been introduced in England
and Wales banning cash payments at scrap yards.
All transactions can now be traced,
a move aimed to put off metal thieves.
Shaun hopes it'll mean no more 4.30am starts.
I'll go home and have a bath, I think.
But that's pretty much where we are at this point in time.
But the guy's been very compliant and, yeah, it's a good day's work.
That's it for today. Join us next time when the police
and the public catch more criminals red-handed.
A husband and wife team set a cunning trap to catch an employee who is stealing from their sweet shop, and high up on a church roof, a metal thief does not realise he is being watched.