Episode 7 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 7

A look at new ways of catching criminals. Thieves steal a mobility scooter but do not realise their actions are recorded, and police fight back against illegal street racing.


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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,

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the police are now using new tactics

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where the bad guys actually 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, mate.

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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.

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

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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 on Caught Red Handed,

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cable theft - expensive, annoying,

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even dangerous.

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Police roll out a bait cable drum

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loaded with a camera and a tracking device to catch thieves in the act.

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Also coming up, it looks like a professional rally race

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but it's actually illegal drivers

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on a public road in Birmingham.

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I knew if we didn't do something

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that there would be some serious harm or a fatality.

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Also today, the thieves that would even steal a mobility scooter.

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How can someone be so sick

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and knowing that's for a disabled person and taking it?

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For a number of years, metal theft has been a national problem

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and for the last few years,

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criminals have been going copper crazy -

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specifically the copper found in cables.

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British Telecom provide a large proportion of the cable

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for communications in the UK.

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Simon Davies is their security manager.

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The price of copper has increased multiple times

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over the past two or three years,

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so thousands of tonnes of copper are stolen every year from our network.

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Thefts like the ones you're seeing now

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cost BT millions of pounds to replace

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but the disruption to communications affects everybody.

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Businesses are unable to trade, they're unable to take orders,

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vulnerable people in their homes

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are unable to make telephone calls they might need.

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It has a huge effect on communities.

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So cable theft costs time and money

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and it could even cost you your life.

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Filmed from the cab of a fire engine,

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what happens next is a direct result of cable theft.

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Another fire engine's camera captures the explosion

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and then a second house also blows up.

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Incredibly, no-one was hurt as the houses had been evacuated

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after residents reported a smell of burning.

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It was just pure chance

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that no firefighters were inside at the time.

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This happened because thieves had earlier stolen copper from the overhead power lines,

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leaving a stray live wire dangling down onto the ground.

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High voltage electricity found its way

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to the gas pipes feeding the houses,

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superheating them to such a degree that they exploded.

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So, while thieves want to get their hands on copper,

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the coppers are really keen to get their hands on the thieves.

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In West Sussex, PC Chris Dicker is using a new method

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to help stop this dangerous and reckless crime.

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One of the ways we're trying to combat this

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is with this bait cable drum.

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Somewhere on this drum - police don't want it shown where -

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there's a spy camera and a satellite tracking device.

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So as soon as this gets lifted,

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it will send a text to my phone

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and we'll be able to track it.

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These cable crooks even put their own lives on the line.

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People take such risks to steal it,

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like hammering through generators and stuff like that.

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It's in everybody's interests to deter this kind of crime

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by catching people in the act

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and Chris thinks he knows the perfect place

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to, er...drum up trade.

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There's a new housing development

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in the process of being completed at the moment.

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They've had a lot of reports of sus vehicles and that

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turning up looking for scrap,

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so what I've decided to do is,

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just out of that area, at this substation behind us,

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is to leave the BT cable drum there

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as if it's like one of BT's own employees has just left it there.

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These shots are from the tiny camera hidden on the drum.

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If I leave it this way, hopefully we'll get a picture of a vehicle

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or them walking up to it from the camera,

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so I think this is probably the best position to put it in.

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Cable drum dropped, now it's a wait

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to see if anybody takes the bait in the next 24 hours.

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Next morning, he comes in to find it's had an eventful night.

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Since you left us,

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we've had our cable drum that we put out yesterday stolen.

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The bait cable drum was left yesterday lunchtime

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and coming up to tea-time, barely four hours later,

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the camera inside captures a passing motorist

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taking more than a passing interest.

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5:39 hours - we'll have a vehicle pull up from the left-hand side.

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We then see the gentleman, he's obviously noticed the bait drum.

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He's got out, approached it,

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and then see, he's probably inspecting it and having a look

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to see whether it's going to be worth anything to him or not.

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He's then called a second person over, he's got out of the car

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and in a moment, you'll see them wheel it off.

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In broad daylight, the pair brazenly roll the drum towards their car

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but they don't know the camera's also rolling,

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catching the registration number of the car in the process.

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But Chris doesn't just have pictures.

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His fellow officers followed the tracking signal

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and caught the thief red-handed.

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That was recovered at an address in Hailsham,

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whereby it was found in the occupants' car.

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He's been interviewed and admitted taking it from the side of the road.

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A successful result.

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The driver was given an official caution with the warning

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that if he's caught doing anything like this again,

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he'll face a heavier sentence.

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Chris and the team know

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the more people they can trap with their bait drum,

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the less likely people are to steal cable in the area.

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This person is going to talk to his mate,

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who's going to talk to his mate, who's going to talk to his friend,

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so it's a question of spreading that climate of fear

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that if they see something lying at the side of the road,

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is it baited or not?

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At the end of the day, if it's not yours, you shouldn't be taking it.

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There are many reasons why people steal

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but sometimes, it's just an overwhelming desire

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to have an unaffordable luxury

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that proves too tempting to resist.

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Musician Kelvin Ho runs this guitar shop.

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He's used to people occasionally murdering Stairway To Heaven

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but after three expensive guitars were stolen from his shop,

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he decided this was a musical crime too far

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and invested heavily in a decent CCTV system.

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It soon proved a wise investment.

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This young man walks in one afternoon,

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guitar case over shoulder,

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seemingly just to browse around.

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Up on the wall, a classic Gretsch, worth around £2,500,

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has caught his attention.

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At that price, it's out of the reach of most people,

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but not for this young man.

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After grabbing the Gretsch,

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he opens up his guitar case to reveal it's actually empty.

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This is not the case for long, as he conceals the guitar inside.

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Yet he doesn't fret about what he's done,

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and calmly looks around the store for a few minutes

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before walking out.

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When Kelvin later discovered the guitar was missing,

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he filed a police report

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and put the footage up on the internet

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to expose the thief publicly.

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It proved instrumental.

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The next day, the young man was marched in

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by his extremely upset mother...

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..to return the guitar.

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# Highway to hell

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# On the highway to hell... #

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The mother begged for mercy,

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saying he hadn't stolen anything before.

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Feeling sorry for her, Kelvin decided not to press charges.

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Hopefully, that young man will change his tune in the future.

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Now, still to come on today's Caught Red Handed...

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A covert operation to stop a dangerous crime -

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illegal street racing.

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You can see that the pedestrians here move out of the way,

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and God forbid if that vehicle would have crashed into the side.

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And another shoplifter caught on camera.

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This one's not after a guitar, but a luxury blanket,

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and you wouldn't believe the lengths he goes to to get it.

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With CCTV cameras everywhere,

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some people are saying that we're living in a surveillance society,

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but as far as the police are concerned,

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the more eyes looking out for the bad guys, the better.

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Police welcome CCTV footage from members of the public.

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It helps solve crime more quickly.

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For example, when offenders are in police custody

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and they're presented with CCTV evidence,

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they're far more likely to plead guilty.

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And of course, having CCTV outside your house

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acts as a real deterrent.

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In our next story, a man rigs up a CCTV camera system

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to protect his house, and ends up helping out the neighbourhood too.

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A few years ago, 38-year-old father of five Tariq

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was diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension,

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a disease affecting the heart and lungs.

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I'm very limited in my mobility.

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Sometimes when I'm trying to do normal things around the house

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or trying to do the shopping, it causes me severe breathlessness

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where I get chest pains and I'll start bringing up blood

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because I've exerted myself so much.

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If his condition gets worse, he could face an organ transplant.

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In the meantime, a recent spate of crime in the neighbourhood

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convinced him to rig up a four-camera surveillance system

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around the outside of his house.

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I had CCTV installed mainly for my own safety and my children's safety.

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I felt a bit insecure, especially being disabled.

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What Tariq didn't know was just how much crime his cameras would catch.

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Just gone 3:00am.

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A shadowy figure approaches Tariq's Ford Galaxy on the drive,

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and starts fiddling around behind it.

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He later goes to the back of two further cars in the street.

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His intention? Arson.

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The back of Tariq's car has caught fire.

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Fortunately, another resident sees this

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and runs up to hammer on his door.

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I open the door to him, I said, "Come on in."

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You know, ran into the kitchen,

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got some pots and I chucked one at him.

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I got one, I filled it with water, and he started filling up,

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and I ran out and I started chucking it all over the car.

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Tariq and his neighbour fought the flames

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until the fire brigade arrived, but the car was gutted.

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I felt absolutely devastated.

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I was absolutely devastated that my car had been destroyed.

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The Galaxy seven-seater meant a lot to me.

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I have a lot of kids

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and I do a lot of running around with family.

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All the stuff as well, in the car. It meant a lot to me.

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That was my pride and joy.

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Five cars in total had been ignited that night.

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Though at least Tariq, with the police in tow,

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could check his cameras' footage to identify the perpetrator.

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I was going through, and I recognised the guy who put my car on fire.

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I said, "That looks like such-and-such person."

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Eventually, with the information that they got from me,

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they managed to make an arrest.

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22-year-old Niall Key was caught

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and sentenced to five years in prison.

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A result, yes, but incredibly,

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those cameras were going to come in useful again very soon,

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because sadly, that wasn't the end of Tariq's bad luck.

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Just days after suffering at the hand of one criminal,

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Tariq was to become the victim of another callous crime.

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Now with no car and a wait for the insurance money to come through,

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Tariq was left with only one way of getting about -

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his mobility scooter.

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I bought a mobility scooter a couple of years ago,

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but when the car burnt out,

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I thought, well, what I could do is now is,

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I could jump back onto the mobility scooter.

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The mobility scooter needed a new fuse,

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so Tariq went to buy a replacement.

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With his return came an unpleasant surprise.

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I thought, "Where's the scooter gone?"

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And to my shock and horror, the scooter wasn't there,

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so I started shouting to the kids,

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I said, "Suleiman, where's the scooter?

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"Sara, where's the scooter?"

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And all I heard was, "I don't know, Dad. I don't know."

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I said, "Are you messing about with me?"

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They said, "No, we're not messing about, Dad."

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So, another trip upstairs to look at the CCTV tapes,

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and another depressing sight.

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Just down from Tariq's drive, this scrap van has pulled up.

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The mobility scooter, parked by the door,

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has caught the driver's eye.

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He sends his mate over to have a closer look.

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So he tried the door, and obviously,

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there was no response because no one was in,

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so he thought, "Field day. I can have the scooter for nothing."

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The driver leaps out as well to lend a hand.

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In broad daylight, the pair heave the scooter across the road

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and then struggle with the weight

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as they try to hoist it up onto the fully stocked van.

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Seeing as it's giving the two able-bodied men such a hard time

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to do this, you'd think they might spare a thought

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for the less physically able person they're nicking it from.

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Nope. They just drive off.

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I feel that's very, very cheeky.

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How can people, knowing that a mobility scooter

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is for someone who is disabled, come on your drive and just take it?

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That scooter brand new is worth £2,000.

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To me, I can't comprehend how can someone be so sick

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and knowing that is for a disabled person and taking it.

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Police are hunting the thieves, who are still at large.

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A few months on, and insurance paid out.

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Tariq has been able to replace his car and scooter.

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But as he previously had both taken from him

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in the space of four weeks, you wouldn't have blamed him

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for wanting a change of scene.

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It just made me feel like I just wanted

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to sell the house and move on.

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And in another way, I kind of feel like, why should I run away?

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Why should I run scared?

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Why should I give the children that impression,

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that it's better to walk away or it's better to run away,

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and we should fear criminals?

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You know, and so I thought,

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no, I'm not running away from no-one.

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Instead, Tariq is using his CCTV system

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to help clean up the neighbourhood generally.

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I'm so happy that I've got it, I would never change it.

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In fact, I've had a lot of people approach me

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and they've always asked me,

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"Can you look back on such-and-such day for me,

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"because this happened to me?"

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So I was more than happy to oblige them to have a look.

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I felt very happy about it.

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Most thieves try to act quickly, to get away as soon as possible,

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but not our next thief.

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A contender, perhaps, for the most drawn out theft award.

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In Ohio, the couple who own this store

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went back through this CCTV footage after noticing

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that a blanket like this had been stolen the day before.

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And this is what they saw -

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the blanket that went missing is here.

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Watch this man with a baseball cap and beard closely.

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He quickly grabs the rolled-up blanket

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and puts it down on the floor out of prominent view.

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He then makes a great show of not looking at the blanket,

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checking his watch and talking to another customer.

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As the shop fills up, he gets spooked

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and walks to another part of the store.

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But just over a minute later, he's back,

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and moves the blanket once more,

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behind a stand out of camera view.

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Taking off his jacket, he places it over the blanket on the floor.

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He then picks up his jacket with the blanket wrapped inside it.

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But just before he makes the door, one of the shop owners walks in.

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Fearing she may be watching him, he then swiftly puts

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the blanket into a cupboard

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and pretends to look at something else...

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..when it seems he really, REALLY wants to steal this blanket,

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and he spends the next few minutes waiting for the perfect opportunity.

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Finally, he reaches between two other shoppers

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engrossed in conversation,

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wraps blanket in coat once more and leaves the shop.

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And that would have been that,

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but the store owners put this footage up on the internet.

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Recognising the thief, locals came forward in their droves

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and provided his name, address and even phone number.

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Shamed by his crime, the thief quickly returned the blanket,

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leaving it on the shop doorstep.

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That's all stitched up, then!

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Now, to a different type of crime altogether

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and one that's potentially life-threatening.

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Between June 2011

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and July 2012, there were nearly 25,000 people killed

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or seriously injured on our roads and a quarter of these were caused

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by dangerous driving, reckless driving and speeding offences.

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Cameras have vastly reduced the number of collisions on our roads

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and we've seen a 35% reduction at camera sites nationally.

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But some people make a sport out of dangerous driving.

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ENGINES REV

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The screeching, squealing world of illegal underground street racing.

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At night, dozens of cars and bikes tear around the roads

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we use every day, while hundreds of spectators cheer them on...

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..the driving often reckless, accidents frequent.

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MAN SHOUTS

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The problem was so bad in Birmingham, in particular,

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that worried about the potential loss of life,

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police launched a covert operation to crack down on it.

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Sergeant Paul Bieliauskas was part of the investigation team

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tasked with stopping the races.

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People would turn up en masse and then race along the public road.

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We had speeds of 127mph.

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This will go on up until about one, two o'clock in the morning,

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keeping up residents,

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but this is all about public safety - somebody will die.

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24-year-old Chris Sinclair knows all too well

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about the dangers of street racing.

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He had just left work for the night on his motorcycle.

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Ahead, two cars had started racing each other

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on this single-lane main road,

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weaving in and out of traffic.

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At this junction, one lost control and swerved at 70mph

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right into Chris, who was coming the other way.

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What I do remember from the accident was crunching, engine noise,

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a sound of a high-revving car, another crunch,

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and then it all went quiet and I closed my eyes then.

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The car that hit Chris's motorcycle was driven by Nikash Sultan.

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His car was so badly damaged by the impact that it couldn't move.

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The other car was driven by Umair Qureshi.

0:22:570:22:59

He fled the scene of the accident.

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It was two whole weeks later before Chris woke up in hospital.

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I've been told when the car hit me,

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I was 50-odd metres down the road, you know,

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my body was higher than the lamppost, top of the lamppost

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I was spinning in the air and I landed quite hard on my neck.

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The damage to his brain, caused by the blow he'd received, had left him

0:23:290:23:33

temporarily unable to recognise his friends and work colleagues.

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He had shattered his left leg, with the ankle, knee, thigh bone

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and hip all broken.

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Both his wrists were fractured

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and there were three breaks in his neck, which meant he had to wear

0:23:450:23:48

a metal head brace for three months, day and night, while they healed.

0:23:480:23:53

He had also lost the sight in his right eye -

0:23:530:23:56

all as a result of the foolhardy driving of two men.

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It was exactly to avoid this kind of accident happening

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that the police wanted to clamp down on the illegal street races

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congregating in Birmingham.

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When Paul and his fellow officers came across these gatherings

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they were a no-go zone, even for the police.

0:24:200:24:24

It was too dangerous because there was 400-500 people, literally.

0:24:240:24:29

A number of people damaged police vehicles - they have flat tyres

0:24:290:24:33

or windscreens had been smashed by people throwing bricks.

0:24:330:24:38

Outnumbered, Paul and his colleagues needed a new tactic.

0:24:410:24:45

They had to get intelligence on who the regular offenders were.

0:24:470:24:51

They pinpointed this set of traffic lights as key to identifying

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and catching them.

0:24:550:24:57

Two vehicles would pull up alongside each other

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and race from the traffic lights into the distance.

0:25:000:25:02

REVVING

0:25:020:25:04

They'll do a track along the Heartlands Parkway and the A47

0:25:050:25:10

and come back and literally do the same thing again.

0:25:100:25:13

Paul and the team asked special permission from

0:25:140:25:16

Birmingham City Council to install surveillance at this crossing.

0:25:160:25:20

They fit multiple cameras with microphones.

0:25:200:25:23

If the racers stop here, then they can be clocked

0:25:230:25:26

and their numberplates read.

0:25:260:25:28

And when the footage comes back, even experienced officers

0:25:310:25:34

are shocked by the behaviour these cameras capture.

0:25:340:25:37

While one car waits at the lights,

0:25:370:25:39

another one fails to brake in time.

0:25:390:25:41

God forbid if that vehicle would have crashed into the side,

0:25:450:25:48

heaven knows what would have happened.

0:25:480:25:51

But the worst was yet to come.

0:25:510:25:53

A 15-year-old boy is taken out into the middle of the speeding traffic

0:25:550:25:59

by the adult in charge of him and encouraged to start a race.

0:25:590:26:02

A few minutes later, he's back out on his own again.

0:26:050:26:08

And I knew if we didn't do something, that there would be

0:26:110:26:14

some serious harm or a fatality.

0:26:140:26:16

But now the police COULD do something.

0:26:160:26:19

With this footage, they could identify the cars

0:26:190:26:22

and numberplates of offenders

0:26:220:26:24

and when the culprits were unmasked, there was a surprise.

0:26:240:26:28

The term "boy racer" doesn't describe them.

0:26:280:26:32

The majority of people are late 30s, early 40s,

0:26:320:26:35

that have grown up with this culture.

0:26:350:26:37

The police brought 400 separate prosecutions,

0:26:390:26:42

with many receiving heavy fines and driving bans.

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The operation has had a massive impact.

0:26:470:26:50

Street racing has significantly reduced to the point where

0:26:500:26:56

members of the public and local businesses are saying,

0:26:560:26:59

"This is no longer a racetrack," and they're able

0:26:590:27:01

to go about their daily business and use the road as they once did.

0:27:010:27:06

The two reckless drivers that caused Chris's horrific crash

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were eventually found guilty of dangerous driving

0:27:100:27:12

and jailed for 16 months apiece.

0:27:120:27:15

They were also banned from being behind the wheel for five years.

0:27:150:27:20

Chris faces a long struggle to recover but he's now engaged

0:27:210:27:25

and getting on with his life.

0:27:250:27:27

He has a message, though, for anyone tempted to race.

0:27:270:27:31

Go to Silverstone, take your car

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as fast as you can round there.

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If you crash,

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you crash into the tyre wall,

0:27:360:27:38

you're crashing into sand.

0:27:380:27:40

Don't put other people's lives at risk.

0:27:400:27:42

It's just not worth it.

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Join us next time when the police

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and the public catch more crooks red-handed.

0:27:500:27:53

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:160:28:19

Callous thieves steal a mobility scooter, but do not realise their evil actions have been recorded. Plus, police fight back against illegal street racing which left one innocent man with horrific injuries.