Episode 8 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 8

A look at innovative ways of catching criminals. West Midlands police put out a decoy car and wait for thieves to break into it, and a callous carer is caught on camera.


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Transcript


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Thieves will steal our cars,

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our valuables, 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 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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Pretend you're talking on the phone for a bit longer. OK, mate.

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-And setting clever traps...

-The laptop he's stealing is equipped with a tracking device.

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..that deliver unsuspecting crooks right into their hands.

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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 caught you, we're sending you down.

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So anyone who is 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 - car theft.

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They'd gone through all of my possessions.

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Taken some of my personal things. It was quite sickening actually.

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Police cars go undercover to catch crooks in the act.

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And also today, a trusted carer

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caught stealing from the lady she looked after for eight years.

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And watch how a well-rehearsed trick

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leads to this woman losing her cash card and her money.

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Last year in England and Wales,

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a car was broken into every two minutes.

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But some of those thieves had a nasty surprise.

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That's because they fell into a police trap.

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If a criminal decides they want to break into a car,

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and it happens to be ours, they need to face the consequences for that.

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We're there to put the fear of being caught in their mind.

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Is it baited or not? They'll never know.

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Until we come knocking on their door, I guess.

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Car crime.

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It's not only one of the most common crimes in the UK,

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it's also one of the quickest.

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It can take just four seconds to commit.

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Sergeant Simon Williams from West Midlands Police

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is trying to turn the tables on car thieves.

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It can prove to be a really difficult crime to solve

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because traditionally there's not normally any witnesses around.

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CCTV opportunities tend to be limited.

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Our offenders these days are becoming more forensically aware.

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Simon and his team had to come up with another way to deter this kind of thief.

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Traditional methods of investigating the crime

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weren't having as big an impact on reductions and re-offending as we wanted.

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But new improved technology

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means the police can set up operations making use of so-called "capture cars".

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These cars are fitted from pillar to post with small hidden cameras.

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You can't see them. And, not to give the game away, we can't show you in detail.

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They often come with attractive accessories for a would-be thief.

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Laptop computers, satellite navigation systems,

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expensive pairs of jeans, trainers, Xboxes.

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Um, you name it, we can put it in there.

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The police place these cars in known streets for vehicle crime

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and wait for them to be broken into.

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Most thefts are opportunistic.

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With cars parked everywhere every day and left largely unattended,

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they can be an easy target.

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Sam Smith has particularly suffered at the hands of car criminals.

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I decided to use a secure car park. I thought it would be a bit safer.

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Came back a few hours later to find that things were missing.

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It was quite sickening actually because

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they'd gone through all of my possessions, taken some of my

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personal things like my jacket

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and my hockey stick, which I was quite fond of.

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Um, so, um, it wasn't very nice.

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Sam had to claim on insurance for a whole new door that cost hundreds of pounds and she's still suffering.

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Three years on,

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I'm still paying about probably £2-300 more

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than my insurance was initially.

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Sam now has a new motor.

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And has stayed mercifully car-crime free.

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But experiences like hers are the reason West Midlands Police

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have rigged up capture cars. As we saw earlier,

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the traps have been set and immediately the operation starts paying off.

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This unlocked car in Birmingham

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attracts the attention of a group as they walk past.

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And this man in a cap seems particularly interested

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in the laptop bag he's seen on the seat.

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After checking the coast is clear,

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he then opens the door with his hand in his sleeve

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and grabs the bag.

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After making sure there's a laptop inside,

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and that he's not going away empty handed,

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he then, with the inside of his arm, closes the door behind him.

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But despite his care, he was caught on camera.

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The laptop had a tracking device

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and he was later convicted of theft from a motor vehicle

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and sentenced to eight weeks in custody.

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Another part of Birmingham.

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Coming up to half-past midnight,

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two hooded men, having found the door left open on this car,

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waste no time in grabbing a satellite navigation system.

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Next, they quickly rummaged with gloved hands

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around the rest of the car before scarpering.

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When police see this footage, they certainly don't need directions

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to find the thieves who have taken their sat nav.

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They were identified by police officers who had previous dealings with both males.

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Really well known to us.

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And, safe to say, they've been involved in that kind of crime in the past.

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There's something about a sat nav in a car that tempts some individuals to take the wrong path.

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Such as this young woman who walks past with a group of lads

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but returns to try the door.

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Finding it unlocked, she then bags herself a sat nav.

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But this is another capture car

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and she has just bagged herself a conviction.

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As for this bloke, who has also spotted a capture car unlocked,

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and a sat nav in view, well, he has no idea the trouble

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this six-second theft is going to get him into.

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It's the middle of the day, he's wearing a T-shirt, no gloves, no hat.

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It was really brazen.

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Identifying him wasn't an issue at all.

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Simon and the team quickly go to a pub that they know the man frequents.

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We saw him in there and he was trying to sell

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the sat nav to the locals in the pub.

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He saw us, made off out of the pub,

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discarded the sat nav in the middle of the road and made off on foot.

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We had quite a long foot chase with this guy. When we caught him,

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he had controlled drugs on him. So it was a good result, a good arrest all round really.

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Capture cars are now being regularly used across the country.

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Whether thieves get in through an open door,

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or smash their way in like this man in Nottingham,

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they will all be caught and punished.

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Every theft you've seen resulted in the offenders being jailed,...

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..fined or given community orders.

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By spreading this fear, the aim is to make thieves think twice before breaking into any vehicle.

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And in the West Midlands, the use of capture cars has had a noticeable impact.

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We've seen a year-on-year reduction for the last two years

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in this kind of vehicle crime.

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In the last year to date, we've seen a 17% reduction,

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which means there's been 400 fewer victims of this kind of crime. So really successful.

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Now a tale of broken trust

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and a callous crime carried out on a helpless victim.

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This kitchen belongs to 79-year-old Joyce.

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The lady who has just come into shot

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has been her carer for the last eight years.

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She's about to betray the trust of Joyce and her family.

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I thought she was my friend.

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I would've trusted her with my life.

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She was lovely. It's unbelievable.

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She would have, if she was stealing off you.

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Joyce is confined to a wheelchair and needs round-the-clock care.

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This is provided by her daughters Linda and Judith

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along with various members of a professional care team.

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My mum's got muscular dystrophy, so obviously

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she's got no muscles really.

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The carers come in twice a day

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and just do things that you would do for yourself really

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because my mum can't do anything.

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They make her tea, move her legs if they're uncomfortable.

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And she doesn't go out, so it's someone else to talk to, isn't it?

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It's just different conversation really.

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And this woman in particular was Joyce's favourite.

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They had developed a strong bond that went beyond patient and carer.

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-So the family thought.

-We trusted her.

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She'd been coming in for nearly nine years.

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Mum loved her. She was really good. I liked her, everybody liked her.

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But Joyce started to realise something was amiss.

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I kept saying to my daughters,

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I'm sure I should have had more money in my purse than that.

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I said, you'll have done this or you'll have done that, you know.

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You'd have paid somebody, the window cleaner or whoever.

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This had been going on for probably nearly a year

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that my mum had kept asking us to count her money.

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Joyce is unable to open her purse by herself

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and needs one of her daughters

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or a carer to do it for her.

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One morning, Judith pays particular attention to how much money is in her mum's purse.

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And then checks again after this carer has left.

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There was £20 short.

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I realised that the only person who was going in my purse

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when I had my back turned was the carer.

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It was horrible.

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I felt ill. It was awful. We knew it was her.

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But they need proof.

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The sisters start writing down the exact numbers of the notes

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in their mum's purse before the carer arrives and then what's left after.

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For three weeks it was hell.

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You know, my mum was crying.

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The effects it had on the family.

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We were fighting with my mum because she didn't want to lose her.

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"I can't. What am I going to do? She does everything for me."

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But all the evidence is pointing to the fact that this professional,

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the apple of their mum's eye, could be more of a rotten apple.

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She took £70 in just under three weeks.

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I was devastated.

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The family want definite proof that this carer is stealing from Joyce.

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So they call in private help.

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I went on the Yellow Pages.

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Went through private detectives.

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One jumped out of the page.

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The private detective says he can provide small specialist cameras

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to try and record the carer in the act.

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The family already have a theory as to where and how the thefts are taking place.

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On a morning, my mum sits at the computer in a wheelchair

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with her back to that corner.

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The carer will be washing up, my mum will ask if she can go for some shopping.

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So she'll... The purse is in here.

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The carer will then take out the amount of money that Joyce has asked her for.

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And she shows it to her to confirm.

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But the family believe that, while Joyce's back is turned,

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the carer is also helping herself to extra notes.

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But to know for sure, they need to catch it on film.

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The detective put a camera in the basket.

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And in the video box over there.

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And this is what the concealed cameras record.

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Joyce is sitting at the computer off camera

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with her back turned to the kitchen.

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Joyce asks the carer to get £20 out of her purse

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so that she can go shopping on Joyce's behalf later.

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But the carer takes out two £20 notes.

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Leaving the other note on the worktop,

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she goes over to Joyce to show her

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that she has taken one £20 note out only.

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The carer knows her deception is safe from discovery.

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Joyce's muscular dystrophy means she can't turn her head around to see what's going on.

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After pocketing both 20s - one for Joyce's shopping, one for herself -

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that carer goes back to her friendly chat with Joyce as if nothing's happened.

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CHATTER

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-Unbelievable.

-Chatting away to you.

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-How easy was it?

-I can't believe it.

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Even though they suspected as much,

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the carer's actions still came as a shock to the family

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when the detective showed them this footage for the first time.

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Angry. Very... So angry.

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I was really upset.

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Because it was the trust.

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It blew us apart because we all trusted her.

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I thought, "You'd been doing this for a long time," you know?

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She was like a professional. She knew exactly what she was doing.

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Joyce, in particular, felt the betrayal keenly.

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I couldn't believe it.

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It was horrific.

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They took the footage to the police.

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I think she was arrested

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and totally denied it. She didn't do it. No way had she done it.

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The police then showed her the video.

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They said if she hadn't had a chair she would have collapsed.

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So, obviously, yeah, you've been caught red handed.

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The only offence they could prove against the deceitful carer

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was the one caught on camera.

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She eventually pleaded guilty to theft by employee and was fined £180

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and had to pay court costs as well as the £20 she stole from Joyce on that day.

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She was also fired by the agency she worked for.

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They say she will never get another job doing this.

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So she was stupid really, wasn't she? The state of work.

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It could have been going on for years.

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It's something we will never ever know.

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Only she knows that.

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I hope she's very proud of herself.

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Huh. Huh-huh.

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I think she could have apologised.

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And that was all it would take.

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Linda and Judith took extra care over Joyce's finances after that episode.

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And hired new carers to come in to help look after their mother.

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We're happy with what we've got. We've got some nice ones in.

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So, hopefully, that's the end of that.

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Still to come today on Caught Red Handed...

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If you saw this man, you'd wonder what on earth he's doing.

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He's actually in the process of tracking down a potential bike thief.

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Also today, in Birmingham, this runaway thief thinks he's got away.

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He doesn't realise police eyes in the sky are watching him.

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Next, a pair who did get away using some smooth distraction techniques.

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This woman is about to get robbed.

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As she goes up to use the cash machine,

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the bank's CCTV cameras catch this pair waiting to act.

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We're all told to shield the keypad while putting our numbers in

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but do you do it? Here's why you should.

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This bloke's stood about 12 foot - 4 metres - away but by watching

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the woman's hand movements he's able to work out her number.

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After she types in the amount she wants, the other man moves in.

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He pretends he's doing a banking survey, which distracts the woman for a moment.

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Behind her, his accomplice watches for her bank card to pop out.

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Then he too approaches and she turns towards him and that's when the first man steals her card.

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Because her cash is still there, the woman thinks everything is OK.

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But it was her card not the cash this pair were after.

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Within 13 minutes, and before it could be cancelled,

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the stolen card was used to withdraw £650 from two different cashpoints.

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These two are still at large.

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So be warned. If a stranger gets too close to you at a cashpoint

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it could well be a scam.

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Now bike theft.

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Even the prime minister himself has had two bikes stolen.

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They reckon, in England and Wales alone,

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there is a bike stolen every 15 seconds.

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So sadly, in the time it's taken me to tell you this,

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yep, there goes another one.

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Make it as difficult as you can for a thief to steal your bike.

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For example, take the wheel with you, or take the saddle off.

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A thief cannot ride it away.

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As a general rule of thumb,

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I'd advise you spend 10% of the value of the bike securing it.

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Sussex is one of the top-ten areas in the country for this kind of crime.

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Its town of Hailsham has recently had a spate of bicycle thefts.

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-Gary is one of the unlucky ones.

-It was about three o'clock in the morning.

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I heard a bang on the gate. I didn't think to look in the garage.

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It wasn't until 3 o'clock the next afternoon, I come in

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and it was gone.

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Running a second-hand bike store in town,

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Steve Andrews has had more than his fair share of dodgy dealers

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trying to flog their suspicious cycles.

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The lead in one for an undesirable normally is,

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"Got a lovely bike for you, mate."

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The alarm bells start going off straightaway.

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You ask what the bike is, they'll say, "Oh, it's in the motor."

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You go out and have a look at the bike.

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They don't even know what the make or the model of the bike is.

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If you're selling your bike, you've owned it for a certain amount of time, you know what the bike is.

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Steve won't touch them and reports it to the police when he can.

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But it's a fact that most owners never see their bikes again.

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People who are hard working manage to buy something

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and then somebody comes along and helps themselves.

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I have had people on the phone in tears.

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Unfortunately, these people get away with it too often.

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That's why PC Chris Dicker and the police want to apply the brakes

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to a situation that's getting out of control.

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With the increase in bike theft, we set about trying to

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find a different way to catch the people stealing them.

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So they're going to set a trap. They've prepared a bait bike.

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And somewhere on it is a hidden tracking device.

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Let's see if we get any takers for it.

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Next, a plainclothes pedal to find a good spot to leave the bike

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and tempt a thief.

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How about the town centre?

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The library?

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Or this pond in the park?

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Recently, people have been stopping off to feed the ducks

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and turning around to find their cycles have disappeared.

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What we'll do is leave it here.

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Hopefully, somebody will take the bait.

0:21:460:21:48

Chris hopes this will be the perfect place to catch a cycle crook.

0:21:480:21:54

Back at the station,

0:21:580:22:00

it's a waiting game. The tracking device

0:22:000:22:03

sends a signal to a satellite

0:22:030:22:06

and then back down to Chris's computer.

0:22:060:22:09

If the bike moves, it will alert him.

0:22:090:22:12

As you can see,

0:22:120:22:14

that's telling me exactly now where the bike is at this point in time.

0:22:140:22:18

It's right by the common pond there.

0:22:180:22:20

So, how long do you think this unattended bike will stay here?

0:22:200:22:25

A day? Half a day?

0:22:250:22:28

It takes just two hours to take off.

0:22:280:22:31

It's moved from the pond.

0:22:310:22:33

It's saying that it's somewhere within this area, the highlighted area here.

0:22:330:22:40

With a tracking device in the saddle,

0:22:400:22:42

Chris can follow every movement of the bike.

0:22:420:22:45

Eventually, it comes to a halt.

0:22:450:22:47

It's not moved now for a few minutes. So we'll pop out and see if we can find out where it is.

0:22:470:22:54

Ready?

0:22:540:22:55

With his laptop in hand, Chris and some fellow undercover officers set off in hot pursuit.

0:22:570:23:02

It's not far from where we actually deployed it.

0:23:020:23:06

So we're going to go down and see if we can get a better address.

0:23:060:23:10

Or even if it's just outside. It may have been dumped.

0:23:100:23:13

We just don't know.

0:23:130:23:15

The satellite tracking system has narrowed down the bike's position to within a mile.

0:23:150:23:21

But it's in a densely packed estate.

0:23:210:23:24

To help pinpoint it, Chris uses an aerial linked to linked to a sensor.

0:23:240:23:29

The signal's getting quite strong.

0:23:290:23:32

BEEPING

0:23:320:23:33

I'll have a look. I'll let you know. Just keep that on.

0:23:330:23:37

BEEPING

0:23:370:23:38

They've honed the bike's location to somewhere in these roads.

0:23:410:23:45

Now it's a high-tech game

0:23:450:23:47

of hot or cold to pick out the exact address.

0:23:470:23:49

-It's this house.

-It's probably inside.

0:23:540:23:58

Brilliant.

0:24:040:24:06

There's about three bikes in there.

0:24:060:24:08

Chris can clearly see their bait bike inside.

0:24:080:24:12

With no answer at the door, they get a search warrant from a magistrate.

0:24:120:24:16

I'll show you the warrant.

0:24:160:24:18

They don't need to force the door as a window has conveniently been left open around the back.

0:24:180:24:23

They find their bike in the lounge along with three others.

0:24:230:24:27

The bait bike reunited with its rightful owners.

0:24:270:24:31

The police also take the other three into custody for the time being

0:24:310:24:35

in case they turn out to be stolen.

0:24:350:24:37

Police later made contact with the occupant of the house

0:24:410:24:44

who explained that they'd taken the bike inside their home for safekeeping,

0:24:440:24:49

thinking one of the kids on the estate had forgotten they had left it.

0:24:490:24:52

Police found nothing to prove that the other bikes had been stolen.

0:24:520:24:57

They accepted the householder's version of events and did not bring charges.

0:24:570:25:02

Even though in this case there was no conviction,

0:25:020:25:05

bait operations like this have proven to be very successful nationwide.

0:25:050:25:11

We know from experience

0:25:110:25:13

that once we are introducing capture operations into a locality

0:25:130:25:17

criminals get to know about it and crime vastly reduces.

0:25:170:25:21

BLEEP BEEP WHIRR

0:25:250:25:28

The long arm of the law stretches high in the sky too

0:25:280:25:31

with airborne specialist surveillance technology.

0:25:310:25:35

Last year, the West Midlands Police helicopter

0:25:350:25:38

played a key role in over 500 arrests

0:25:380:25:41

by tracking suspects with powerful surveillance and infrared technology

0:25:410:25:45

and directing police on the ground.

0:25:450:25:48

In Coventry, the West Midlands helicopter

0:25:530:25:56

is trailing a suspected mugger.

0:25:560:25:58

'We've got a male matching the description on an orange bike

0:25:590:26:03

'with about five or six other males on bikes.'

0:26:030:26:07

A member of the public has called in to say this man on the orange bike mugged him earlier.

0:26:070:26:13

And the orange bike itself matches the description of one that was stolen a few weeks ago.

0:26:140:26:19

'He'd been subjected to a knife-point robbery by this male who's been identified.'

0:26:190:26:23

'He'd gone back, seen him and called us.'

0:26:230:26:26

The suspect is aware of the police helicopter but maybe,

0:26:260:26:30

because it's so far away, he doesn't seem too bothered.

0:26:300:26:33

'He's got his hood up, he's got goggles on,

0:26:330:26:35

'it looks like he's got some sort of face mask on.'

0:26:350:26:38

'He's trying to hide his face, although he's not making an effort to get away from the area.'

0:26:380:26:43

'He's just going around the tracks along with about ten other bikes.'

0:26:430:26:46

Or maybe the suspect thinks he's safe because he's on rough terrain.

0:26:470:26:52

What he doesn't realise is the helicopter

0:26:520:26:55

is talking to two officers on the ground who are riding

0:26:550:26:58

high-spec police scrambler bikes and moving in on his position.

0:26:580:27:02

'There's a footpath that should lead you through to the wood.'

0:27:020:27:06

'On the other side of the wood, there's an open area,

0:27:060:27:08

'you probably know it, where all the bikes are.'

0:27:080:27:11

So the suspect gets a bit of a shock

0:27:110:27:14

when he sees the police riders enter the field

0:27:140:27:16

and attempt to block his path.

0:27:160:27:18

He tries briefly to get away.

0:27:180:27:21

But then, looking at their powerful bikes,

0:27:210:27:24

realises the game is up and comes to a halt.

0:27:240:27:27

Trapped, he has nowhere to go.

0:27:300:27:32

The off-road coppers detain him until two more officers arrive to take him into custody.

0:27:320:27:38

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

0:27:440:27:48

catch more criminals red handed.

0:27:480:27:50

Since making the film about Joyce Lowden, we've had sad news that Joyce has passed away.

0:27:520:27:58

Her daughters Judith and Linda wanted the film still to be shown.

0:27:580:28:02

West Midlands police put out a decoy car and wait for thieves to break into it, and a callous carer is caught on camera, stealing from the very lady she is supposed to be looking after.