Episode 6 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 6

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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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

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

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They're launching covert operations...

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Keep pretending you're talking on the phone for a bit longer.

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..and setting clever traps...

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The laptop he's about to steal is equipped with a tracking device.

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-..that deliver unsuspecting crooks...

-Go, go, go!

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..right into their hands. And there are also ways that we the public

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and local businesses can fight back with some tricks of our own.

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

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I know what you look like and I know who you are.

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

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

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They might just get caught red-handed.

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Coming up today,

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caught with his hands in the till.

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A couple who own a sweet shop set a trap

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and lay in wait for their thief.

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All the hair on the back of my arms suddenly started rising

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and then we heard the doorbell go and we knew our robber had arrived.

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And the scrap that's a trap.

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A man helps himself to a pile of metal, unaware it's a police set-up.

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He's right in front of you.

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If you try and take it away, we will come after you.

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Also today, this burglar is about to be cornered,

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thanks to some clever technology.

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Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

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In the centre of this historical town,

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Jane and Neil Hutton run a traditional sweet shop.

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And they recently had to use a combination of old-fashioned

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sleuthing and modern technology to bag a thief who was

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threatening their livelihood.

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Handling the day-to-day running of the business,

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Jane noticed the sweet shop's fortunes were starting to turn sour.

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I was conscious that I was not banking

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the amount of money I expected.

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The cause of the missing money remained a mystery,

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but a few weeks later, there came a turning point.

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Like many shopkeepers,

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Jane left a cash float in the till ready for morning trading.

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For some reason on the Monday morning, something made me

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count the number of notes we'd left in the till.

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And it was not the float that I had expected to be there.

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Suspicions aroused, Jane leaves exactly the same amount of money

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in the till that night as well.

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And morning brings exactly the same result.

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Some is missing.

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It was very clear that we had something going on in the shop

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between it closing and it opening in the morning.

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The money is going while Jane and Neil are at their home

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outside Marlow and the shop is left unattended.

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But who is taking it?

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Well, with no sign of an obvious break-in,

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it points to somebody with a key.

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And the only people issued with keys are staff members.

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Even if it wasn't any of our lovely staff,

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it could have been their fathers or their brothers.

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Some of them had keys. Therefore, they might have had a copy made.

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Maybe a friend had a copy of the key. I wasn't sleeping. I was so worried.

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In the meantime, the couple go to the police, who advise them

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to mark the notes they leave in the till.

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But Jane and Neil know they really need to catch somebody red-handed.

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We did quite a lot of lurking in alleyways,

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just trying to be incognito,

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but we're so well known in the town

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that people would stop and say hello. We'd have to think,

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"Right, don't look at us, we're supposed to be surveillance."

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But we didn't see anyone open the door anyway.

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Time for a tactical upgrade.

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We needed to get some proof of who was coming in at night

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and the obvious way to do that was with a concealed camera like this.

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So that then looks directly at the till and shows us

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who's coming in and what they're doing.

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And just two nights later, success.

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It's nearly 1.30am. A shadowy figure enters the shop.

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First, he goes into the storeroom, possibly to make it look like

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he's innocently checking something, in case anyone saw him come in.

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But then he emerges, crouched down, to raid a till off camera.

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Then, in full view, he sidles over to the second till,

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keeping low to avoid being illuminated by the glare of

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the street lights outside, he starts to help himself to the banknotes.

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For Jane and Neil, it's an unpleasant watch.

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Somebody they know isn't as sweet natured as they'd appeared to be.

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I felt completely and utterly sick.

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I saw our robber on the screen and I instantly knew who it was.

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It was our newest member of staff and I couldn't believe it.

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I just couldn't believe it

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because here was a guy I'd been chatting to and laughing to

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and training, putting all my effort in to help him

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cos he was about to go off to university to do drama or something

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and my heart sank.

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The employee, it seems, has been taking the same amount

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of money from both tills to make it appear like a book-keeping error.

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Unfortunately, when they show this footage to the police,

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the couple are told the picture quality isn't enough

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for a 100% identification in front of a court.

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But what about the marked notes he stole?

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He could claim, even though he had the marked notes in his pocket,

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if we picked him up the next day,

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that perhaps he'd received it as change somewhere else in the town.

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And so we can't convict on this, we need better.

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OK, so we requested that they put officers in the shop overnight

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and they didn't have the resources to do it.

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So we thought long and hard and thought,

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"OK, it's going to have to be us."

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Jane and Neil begin hatching a plan to trap their turncoat staff member.

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And later, it leads to a tense confrontation.

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My mouth was completely dry. It happened in seconds.

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It was very quick.

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Money must be at the top of most thieves' wish-list, I'm sure.

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But it seems nowadays more unlikely items are also desirable.

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Burglars aren't just stealing jewellery, computers,

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laptops nowadays. They're also targeting boilers and radiators.

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There has been of late an increase in metal theft

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due to the high values scrap has been paying.

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Anything with a resale value is actually a target.

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5am on a Wednesday morning.

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Catching metal thieves

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is the goal of council enforcement officer Shaun Carter,

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who, for now, sits and waits.

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We're even up before the owls this morning.

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Shaun's set a trap and is waiting for the signal that this operation is about to start.

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MOBILE RINGS

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Yep, we're all done.

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And we can now retire to a safe distance

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and await today's performance.

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Shaun and the East Sussex Police

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are after a very particular type of crook.

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Metal thieves.

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It's a national problem and the area of Rother has recently had more than

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its fair share with a succession of raids on residential properties.

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-How's it been?

-Today is probably the worst day you could have turned up.

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The crooks will then bring the stolen metal to scrap yards in exchange for cash.

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Owners of the yards, such as Sharon, are expected to keep paperwork on each transaction.

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Eat your heart out, thank you.

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Shaun, representing Rother District Council,

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and PC Nigel Collins are here to check the books.

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We're just checking that everything's in order, that the

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-addresses are filled in correctly.

-We're looking for any...

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If there's a particular person that seems suspicious to us,

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or is bringing lots of metal in at different locations or

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scrap yards, we may need to check out where they're getting

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their metal from, if that coincides with any recent thefts in the area.

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Sharon's yard is all above board.

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Opportunist thieves are always on the lookout for metal

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and they don't care where it comes from.

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They will help themselves to your garden furniture,

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your water features and barbecues.

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Anything they can get their hands on. It's the same as being burgled.

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You feel violated.

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If we have to take the game to these people,

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then that's certainly what I'll do.

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And now Shaun is taking the game to the thieves.

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In a hot spot for this kind of crime,

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he's arranged to leave out a load of items at a private residence.

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The difference is this stuff will be trackable

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and he's hoping that a thief will take the bait.

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What we've got is a quantity of scrap metal, general household type, electrical goods.

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We'll leave them in a position that naturally the occupant would have been putting them in.

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I think they'd be pretty interested in that.

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The house Shaun's using for this operation belongs to Samantha.

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Last month, she and her partner emptied their garage

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so they could paint it, leaving their stuff on the drive.

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When they popped out to pick up their five-year-old son

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Finlay from school, they returned to find that amongst other things, his bicycle had been stolen.

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Finlay's bike was his pride and joy, really.

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When we got back and realised the stuff had been stolen,

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his face just dropped.

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He was so heartbroken that his favourite bike, his new bike had been taken.

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Samantha doesn't want anyone else to suffer like little Finlay.

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So she readily agreed to let Shaun use her driveway to help clamp down on metal thieves.

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I was quite happy to get involved with it

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because we weren't putting our stuff out to be taken.

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How many other people are there out there having the same done

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to them as well?

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So Samantha's driveway's filled with items, but this time,

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she and council officer Shaun want it to be taken to catch out a thief.

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Shaun wants to fit a tracking device before daylight comes

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and he can be seen setting the trap.

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The devices I'm going to be placing are multifunctional.

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(I've done it often enough.)

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Firstly, you have the anti-handling device, so if anybody moves

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anything, automatically we will be informed straightaway.

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(I'll put this in here, just so that we can keep it nice and safe.)

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For secrecy, Shaun doesn't want to show us the tracking device up close.

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But once he's placed it and activated it, then he'll be

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able to follow its signal if somebody lifts this washing machine.

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(I'm making sure it's nice and secure.)

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As well as the tracker, all the pieces in this pile have been marked

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with invisible dye and photographed for later identification.

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The battery in the tracker will last for two days,

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during which time, Sussex Police are on alert

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in case somebody takes a fancy to this pile of baited scrap metal.

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If somebody does decide that they'll chance their arm,

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we will know and we will go in pursuit of that vehicle.

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Whatever time, over the next 48 hours.

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Shaun has a message for any would-be thieves.

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If you try and take it away, we will come after you.

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Later, it doesn't take long before somebody does take the metal.

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Have a hit on the 259.

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And true to his word, Shaun and the police are hot on their trail.

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-He's right in front of you.

-Result.

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Still to come on today's Caught Red Handed,

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sweet shop owners Jane and Neil are also hot on the heels of a crook

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and their clever plan is about to lead to some sweet revenge.

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He was inches, literally a foot, from where my leg was.

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And we were just motionless.

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Also still to come, we meet three hapless house burglars.

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See how they all picked the wrong place to break into.

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With surveillance equipment becoming more available and affordable,

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ordinary citizens like you and me can turn the tables on the crooks.

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This apartment belongs to a Frenchman called Lavante.

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This is not him.

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This is a thief who has scrambled up the fire escape,

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broken in through the window, and is rifling through Lavante's stuff.

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And this is the sight that was beamed through live

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to Lavante's work computer.

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Just in case this kind of thing happened,

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Lavante had motion sensor cameras rigged up in his flat that,

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if triggered, would alert him immediately.

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Lavante called the cops before running home.

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Shortly after this footage was shot, he banged on the door,

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disturbing the crook, who then fled back out the window.

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But he didn't get far.

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Police arrested him in the alley below.

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Back in Marlow... You'll remember Jane and Neil

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are also trying to catch themselves a thief.

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Money has been missing from the tills in their sweet shop

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over a number of weeks. What's worse,

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they suspect a 20-year-old trusted member of staff

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who they know has been using his key to sneak into the premises

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in the middle of the night and raid the tills.

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Obviously, they're feeling...

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Gutted. Just absolutely gutted.

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They caught him on this hidden camera

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and took the footage to the police.

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But were advised it wasn't necessarily enough on its own

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to secure a conviction.

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The police were lovely, they were supportive,

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but we quickly realised it was Neil and me saving Beehive Treats.

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Knowing who they were dealing with, the couple felt

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they could physically catch this thief themselves.

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We weren't going up against an unknown criminal with unknown weapons.

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We had to design a plan to A, catch the guy,

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and B, do so in a way that kept us safe.

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The big advantage that we had is we understood his pattern,

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so we knew exactly when he was coming in,

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where he was going through the shop and how he was exiting.

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They decide to hide out on the stairs near the back

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of the shop, ready to jump the thief when he passes.

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The danger with that is that we'd fall asleep cos

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we're talking about three o'clock in the morning.

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So we had to set a number of traps within the shop that would

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warn us exactly where he was.

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Neil and Jane aimed to create a little shop of horrors

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for a thief in the night.

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By one till, they put a bottle of window cleaner that will

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cause a thump if he knocks it over.

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This was something he would have used

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as one of his duties in the shop anyway,

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so it would look like someone had left there by mistake.

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And next to the other till, a noisy, rustly rubbish bag.

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He then comes out and progresses towards the fire exit through here.

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Our hiding place is just here. Obviously, he can't see us

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because we've blacked everything out and we're wearing black.

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And this is where he hits the final trap, some soft drink cans on the floor.

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The couple set this last obstacle for their own safety

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so they could check the thief was definitely on his own.

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We wanted to be able to inspect him,

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make sure our plan was going accordingly

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and let him go if we needed to.

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So the mousetrap is set.

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After closing the shop,

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Jane and Neil took their places on the stairs.

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They sit for hours, drifting in and out of sleep, when...

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The outside seemed very calm and quiet.

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I could suddenly feel...all the hairs on the back of my arms

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suddenly started rising.

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Neil woke up and I could hear him grip my wrist and we both sat there

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in this heightened sense of kind of buzziness

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and then suddenly we heard the doorbell go of the main shop.

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BELL RINGS

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And we knew our robber had arrived.

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The staff member is used to the bell but he certainly isn't expecting

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the window cleaner and bin bag that have been placed in his path.

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And those surprisingly all worked. We heard every last step of the way.

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Despite the inconvenience, it's business as usual

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for the young man, as he stuffs his pockets with banknotes.

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-After, he moves towards the back room.

-He then went to the loo.

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At three o'clock in the morning, you can really hear that!

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He was a very polite robber, cos he did flush.

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As the couple sit hiding in the dark,

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the thief clatters into the cans right in front of them.

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And then he had to look down in order to see what was going on,

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put the cans back, one of which he put in his pocket.

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And he put the light of his mobile phone on to allow him

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to place the cans, inches, literally a foot, away from where my leg was.

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And we were just motionless.

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The youth then moves towards the final door to make his getaway

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when Neil pounces.

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Threw him against the wall, frisked him for weapons and put him to the floor.

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My mouth was completely dry.

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It happened in seconds, it was very quick.

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As soon as Neil said,

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"Phone the police," I instantly pressed 999, go.

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-'Police emergency.'

-'I've apprehended a villain in my shop,

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'he has broken in and he has stolen money in my shop.

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'Please send assistance immediately.'

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The police responded incredibly quickly with three squad cars

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of big burly chaps who came rushing in and took on from there.

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-So mission accomplished.

-Mmm.

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The 20-year-old thief has no option but to plead guilty to burglary.

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He's given a 12-month supervision order

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and told to do 40 hours' unpaid work.

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He also had to pay back what he stole on the night.

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It was a lot of money, he stole, over the period.

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We think he probably took about £2,000,

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which is an awful lot of sweets

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that we have to sell in order to make up that difference.

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It's not just the money, it's the hurt.

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We really liked him. We'd had compliments about him from some of the customers.

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He was well liked by everybody. This was just a massive act that we were taken in by as well.

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At least life is sweet once more.

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When we got married, Neil did promise me that I'd have a life of adventure.

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Well, I didn't expect it to be like this.

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Police often don't have the time actually to lie in wait for thieves.

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Instead, they can use other innovative ways to catch

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burglars on their beat.

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You've heard of walls having ears. In some houses, they have eyes.

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In the Benwell district of Newcastle,

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this chap has just bust in through the window of what

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he believes to be a student house left unguarded.

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In fact, it's a Northumbria Police bait house

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that they've rigged with secret cameras. He's being recorded.

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After a few minutes, he's greedily filled a laundry basket,

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that's not his own either, with goodies

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and prepares to make his getaway.

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Unfortunately for him, these goods are electronically trackable

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and he's forced to air his dirty laundry

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when the police knock at his door later.

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In the early hours of the morning, this thief thinks nothing of hauling

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a rather large television out of the window...

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..before coming back

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to swipe a laptop, computer keyboard and monitor.

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But he doesn't know he's being monitored and this 26-year-old was

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later tracked down and convicted,

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receiving a 12-month community order

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and forced to carry out 100 hours' unpaid work.

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But some people don't need to be tracked down to establish their identity.

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This 31-year-old man jumping in through the window of another

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bait house here is instantly recognisable to officers

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when they later view this footage.

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He was already on a suspended prison sentence for a robbery

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in his own block of flats.

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And he's already amassed 50 convictions for other offences

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by the time he comes to merrily steal a TV, DVD player,

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sat nav and two phones from this property.

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As a result, he received 23 months inside.

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So successful were these sting houses that 13 people were

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arrested in just one week.

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And in the weeks following the operation,

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there were no burglaries in the Benwell area at all.

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But thieves aren't just interested in what's inside our houses,

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they'll happily help themselves to items from our garages,

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gardens and driveways, if they think it's of value to them.

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With metal theft from domestic properties

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currently rife in the East Sussex area,

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earlier, council officer Shaun Carter has set up a sting operation.

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Under cover of dark, he has deliberately left

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a pile of metal items on the drive of this private residence as bait.

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CCTV cameras are recording.

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And concealed inside the washing machine is a tracking device.

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If one of these metal thieves takes it,

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Shaun and the police will hunt them down.

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What will happen is that if this gear is tampered with,

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it will let me know immediately via my smartphone.

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While they wait to see if the bait's taken, they carry out spot checks

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on passing vehicles to see if they're carrying metal

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for scrap illegally.

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Metal theft is a growing problem.

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The prices of scrap metal have gone through the roof

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in the last 12-18 months,

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which makes it a much more valuable commodity.

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But the problem is that the thieves are not just taking what they perceive to be scrap metal.

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They are also taking the opportunity

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to nose around people's private property

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and swipe anything else that catches their eye.

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Thank you very much indeed for your time.

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Trespassing on people's land, they may go on to break into

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that person's property and steal ornaments, jewellery.

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We've had recent cases where people have confronted burglars and come off worse.

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We're looking at disrupting them, making it clear it is theft

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and if it's not theirs to take, they shouldn't be taking it.

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It's coming up to midday when...

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MOBILE RINGS OK, we've just... Appear to have a hit on the 259.

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Shaun's tracking device has alerted him that somebody is helping

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themselves to the bait pile of metal he set out earlier this morning.

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They currently look like they want to pick the scrap off the drive.

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It's only been out in daylight for five hours.

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He's just closing his vehicle. He's removing the scrap.

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-They also currently have an eyewitness at the scene.

-Excellent.

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Can you just keep us updated on this phone, yeah?

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The thief's number plate has been noted. And his description.

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Male, 35-40, travelling east towards Rye

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in a Peugeot van with double doors at the back.

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But some bad news is about to come through for Shaun.

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Has he left anything on the drive?

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Thank you. Just my luck(!)

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Apparently, the suspect's van is too small to take the washing

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machine that contains the tracking device, so he's left it on the drive.

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Sod's law, isn't it?

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They can't track him, so they need to find him

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before he dumps the metal. So it's a challenge.

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Search the area and find the right scrap yard in time.

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Safe to say it's not in there.

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But then, a breakthrough.

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Just picked up the vehicle, it's heading out of Rye town centre.

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A traffic patrol car saw the van go past, so Shaun and the team

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now know which scrap yard he's likely to have gone to.

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He's right in front of you.

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Result.

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Can you tell us what you've been doing here, at all?

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Dropped some metal off.

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-You took some out here to be destroyed?

-Yeah.

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-Where did you get the metal from?

-Off a job I was on.

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-OK.

-OK. Got the address of the job?

-Um, no, I haven't.

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-You've got no transfer notes?

-Er, no.

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The man sticks to his story.

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So they march him back to the scrap metal he has just sold to the yard.

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And as he gets nearer, he starts to change his story.

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-I was on the way home in Hastings...

-Not Taunton?

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No, I picked it up on the way home to Hastings.

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Luckily, the items aren't yet buried in the metal haystack.

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Shaun recognises the bike and other gear he placed this morning.

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But to remove all doubt, he brings out his ultraviolet torch to

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show up the invisible dye they've been marked with.

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-Can you read what that says?

-Yeah.

-Rye Police. OK?

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The CCTV footage proves that he took the metal from the driveway of someone's house.

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Something he eventually admits to, which makes it stealing.

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The man confesses once he's in the back of the police car.

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Yeah, but... Bang to rights.

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We're going to go down to the local police station, which will be Rye.

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We'll speak to him there on tape and if he admits on the tape,

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he'll be summonsed to court to appear at court over the next couple of weeks.

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Now a new law has been introduced in England

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and Wales banning cash payments at scrap yards.

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All transactions can now be traced,

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a move aimed to put off metal thieves.

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Shaun hopes it'll mean no more 4.30am starts.

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I'll go home and have a bath, I think.

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But that's pretty much where we are at this point in time.

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But the guy's been very compliant and, yeah, it's a good day's work.

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That's it for today. Join us next time when the police

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and the public catch more criminals red-handed.

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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.