Episode 16 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 16

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A couple come face to face with armed robbers but refuse to hand over their money.


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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 antisocial behaviour

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the police and other agencies are using new tactics and technology

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so the bad guys get caught in the act.

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The CCTV is gold dust.

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Great evidence for the police.

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Got to have him stopped.

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Local councils, shops and businesses are laying some traps of their own.

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The eureka moment when you get that evidence.

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And the general public too can help unsuspecting crooks

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get their comeuppance.

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People won't stand by.

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I couldn't sit back and do nothing.

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Yes! We've got her.

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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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Today - a husband and wife come face-to-face

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with two armed robbers in their shop.

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He said, "Give me your money,"

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and took out the gun. This was a really big gun.

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They're petrified, but refuse to hand over the money.

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I told him, "No, I'm not giving you anything."

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And I was thinking, "Oh, God. How to stop him?"

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Also today - the secrets of the cashpoint scam.

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Crooks can steal our cash when they're nowhere to be seen.

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I thought, "It's my village, they're doing it in my village."

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I think it's absolutely disgusting that they were taking money from people.

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But Megan and the police show us how the scammers can be stopped.

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And, where have all the flowers gone?

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The mystery of a grand theft floral.

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But a planted camera weeds out the culprit.

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The town of Bacup near Burnley in East Lancashire.

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It's a quiet Tuesday lunchtime for the couple who run this post office and shop.

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Suddenly, two armed robbers storm in through the door.

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One has a gun and the other's wielding a metal rod.

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He said, "Right now,

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"give me everything. Give me your money."

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It was scary, really scary.

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I was thinking if we will not give anything

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then they will definitely shoot.

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But even though they're held-up at gunpoint,

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the shop owners bravely take a stand.

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It just came in my mind, "No, I'm not giving you anything."

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They set off a loud alarm and the robbers run out empty-handed.

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So they still need money.

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We don't know what they're capable of

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and how far they're willing to go to get the money they need.

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Two armed and dangerous robbers are at large in the town.

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The Lancashire town of Bacup sits at the foot of the Pennines.

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It grew as a mill town,

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and its strong community spirit has helped it prosper,

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and it continues to thrive today.

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Sunny and Komal own a post office and shop in the

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quiet area of Britannia on the outskirts of Bacup.

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They've been married for over a quarter of a century

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and work side-by-side everyday.

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We hardly have the time to fight because we're always working!

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He's on the quieter side,

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and I'm a bit talkative.

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So that's how I think it's balanced out.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah. I work happily and enjoy working together.

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So no problem at all.

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I think we are right for each other.

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That's why we must have spent 25 years together!

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The couple moved here seven years ago.

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It's a really quite good area and excellent.

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People are very nice, and good support we got from them.

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Basically, I love talking to customers, that's my passion.

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And that's why I've chosen this job,

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because every day you'll learn something from some customer.

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Historically, Bacup has a low crime rate

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and the couple have never been victims of crime.

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But aware that businesses like theirs can attract thieves,

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Komal has put in CCTV cameras and panic buttons.

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I know the post office is a target,

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so just to protect ourselves it's better to have cameras

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because you never know when trouble comes to you.

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And one Tuesday in May, trouble does come to Sunny and Komal.

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It's around midday and there are no customers in the shop.

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Sunny's working behind the counter.

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Komal is doing paperwork in the post office section behind him,

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just off-camera,

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when suddenly two robbers wearing hoodies burst through the door.

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It's so sudden, Sunny freezes in shock.

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He said, "Right now, give me everything. Give me your money."

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The robber in a grey hoodie has a gun.

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The other, dressed in white with their face covered,

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is a brandishing a metal bar.

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It's a terrifying sight.

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Then I came to realise, "Oh, my God, these are robbers."

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And that was a very scary thing, you know?

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The robber in grey heads straight for the post office counter.

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Komal looks up from her work to find that she's

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staring down the barrel of a gun.

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I'd never seen a gun in my life.

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I thought, "If he's shooting then no-one is going to survive."

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The gunman demands cash. But despite her fear,

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Komal refuses to hand it over.

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It's very hard to make money.

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It just came in my mind, "No, I'm not giving anything."

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The pair turn their attention to Sunny,

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who's standing next to the till.

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The gun was at my head.

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I was just thinking, "What will happen now?"

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Sunny has to save himself, so he put both his hands up.

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Sunny thinks he's facing two men.

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But when the robber next to the door shouts and threatens him

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he's shocked to find he's mistaken.

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It was not a guy, it was a girl holding a steel rod.

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Sunny's frightened, but he doesn't intend to hand over the cash.

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He knows there's a panic button by the till

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and, bravely, he decides to trick the robbers.

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So, I said, "All right, I'll give you everything."

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But I had to open the till

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and I don't want to give her everything, you know.

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But instead, he reaches forward and presses the panic button.

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It triggers a very loud alarm and sends an alert to the police.

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And it has a dramatic effect on the robbers.

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They panic and run out of the door.

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And Sunny runs after them!

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I was trying to catch them!

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Komal is horrified.

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He just ran after them, thinking what, I don't know.

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-I shouted behind him. I said, "Don't run!"

-Yeah.

-But he won't listen.

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The two armed robbers split up and disappear into the town.

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So Sunny returns to the shop.

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We hugged and we thought, oh, we are, you know, OK, both of us.

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The police are there within minutes of the alarm and,

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with two armed robbers on the loose,

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Detective Constable Haydn Sibley knows there's no time to lose.

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A firearm's been used in this offence,

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so everybody that was available at that moment in time was

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deployed to Bacup to try and locate these suspects.

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Later...

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police gather vital evidence...

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His face covering lowers, which means we can see his face.

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..and they get extra help from the townspeople.

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Word spread very fast about what had happened at the post office.

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The town of Bacup has two armed robbers running free in its streets!

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When a floral display suddenly disappears,

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grazing deer are suspected.

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But the pest turns out to be of the two-legged variety.

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Some thefts really are quite bizarre!

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On this covered walkway, it looks like this woman's filling

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some empty plant boxes, but actually, she's emptying them!

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She's stealing the flowers from what were boxes

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full of beautiful blooms planted by local girl guides.

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And it's not the first time the flowers have gone missing.

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The local residents think they keep being eaten by deer.

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When the council check their CCTV, what do they find?

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Not deer, but "Oh, dear!"

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The petal pincher is a local woman who should know better.

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Even the dog looks embarrassed to be there!

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Obviously, the town think this is a blooming disgrace and, in court, the

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woman's fined hundreds of dollars and has to pay for the flowers.

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Hopefully, her descent into a life of crime has been nipped in the bud!

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Coming up, this burglar's made up his mind

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what he wants at a Chinese takeaway.

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He's going to take away the chef's most valued possessions.

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We felt our blood literally run cold, cos someone had crept up

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into our private quarters while we were still there.

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Two restaurateurs combined

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to cook up a way to get the thief his just deserts.

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When we use a cash machine, I think most of us

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would check that there are no shady characters lurking around.

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But here's a warning of a way that some sneaky thieves will try

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and get their hands on our cash, even if they're nowhere to be seen.

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The village of Esh Winning in County Durham.

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This man's bank card is stuck in a cashpoint machine.

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He believes it's been swallowed up by the ATM, so he leaves.

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Shortly after, another man arrives to make a withdrawal, but what he's

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actually taking out of the machine is the first man's bank card.

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It's a scam.

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They will withdraw the money very quickly, before the victim realised.

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The area where these people were targeting were pit villages.

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A pair of crooks are stealing hundreds of pounds

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from people's bank accounts. The police warn the public

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by putting pictures of the thieves out on social media.

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I look at the police website every day, and it wasn't nice to see

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that something like that was happening in this village.

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Then, Megan spots a couple of familiar faces.

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I couldn't believe my eyes. It was definitely them!

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Esh Winning in County Durham is a former mining village.

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Coal was mined nearby for over 100 years

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and, although that industry's gone,

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there's still a strong sense of community here.

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PC Mick Renshaw has worked in the area for over ten years.

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The city of Durham is surrounded by

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a number of pit villages, which are quite rural, um,

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very small populations, quite quiet little places.

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The area in general, Durham, is a very safe area to be.

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That view is shared by local resident Megan,

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a 20-year-old mental health support worker.

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I was born and bred in Esh Winning.

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It's a very quiet village, um, there's no crime.

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Megan likes to keep up with what's going on in the village,

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so she keeps an eye on the Durham Police social media page,

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in case there's any news about Esh Winning.

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I look at the police website every day.

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I mean, it's the village that I live in and you've got to look out

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for everybody else in your village as well, not just yourself.

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And the fact that Megan is looking out for everyone proves to be

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important, when local villagers start losing hard-earned cash.

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Reports come into the police from villages around Durham that

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several people have fallen victim to cashpoint scammers

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and have had money stolen from their bank accounts.

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The police believe it could be the work of one gang.

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I think the areas were being targeted, because generally,

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the cash machines do get used on quite a regular basis, so they've

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got the best of both, where the cash machines are getting used,

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but the area in general is also very quiet.

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Then, on a Sunday evening in August, the crooks come to Esh Winning.

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A customer has some money taken from their account after using the ATM.

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The cashpoint machine has a CCTV camera next to it.

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So the police study the footage from around the time the victim

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used the machine, and this is what they see.

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A man approaches. He's wearing a cap that hides his face.

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He pulls a device from his pocket

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and plants it in the top left-hand corner of the cashpoint.

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It's actually a tiny hidden camera.

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He pulls out a second item, a gadget designed to trap a bank card.

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He fits it into the slot and then disappears.

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Moments later, the unlucky victim puts his card into the machine.

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He types in his PIN, but the card stays stuck.

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After seven minutes trying, he gives up and walks away.

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Just two minutes later, another man in a cap approaches.

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He's part of the scam.

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He picks up the hidden camera that will have recorded

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the customer's PIN number.

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He extracts the victim's captured card and pockets it.

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The thieves then head to a different cashpoint

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to withdraw the victim's money.

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Mick explains how it works. First, the hidden camera.

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It's very simple, but very effective.

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A fascia, with a small hole cut in,

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magnets attached to the fascia, to the cashpoint, and then the device

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records the victim putting their PIN number into the machine.

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And a separate device is used to capture the card.

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When the machine tries to inject the card,

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it's trapped by the piece of metal to the rear.

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And a message flashes up to the victim, which says,

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"Your card has been taken by the machine."

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And can be hours or even days before the theft is noticed.

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The victim doesn't realise that some money's gone from their account.

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They simply just assume that the card's been swallowed,

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so a lot of these crimes do go unreported.

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It can have a huge impact on victims, both financially

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and emotionally, and also, it makes them think,

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next time they go to a cash machine, "Can I really trust what I'm doing?"

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About a month later, the thieves return to Esh Winning.

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This time, it's in broad daylight,

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making their appearance more recognisable.

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He's wearing a very distinctive jacket,

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which can be seen in the picture here.

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He also has a cap on and he also has a satchel.

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The police have been warning the public and appealing for help

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by posting clear pictures of the thieves on the intranet.

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Social media is really important.

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It's members of the public who take the time to view

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the Durham Constabulary website

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and look at these articles that enable us to catch people.

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Megan makes her daily check of the police website and is

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shocked to see that Esh Winning has been targeted by criminals.

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The image of those two people, it made me stop and look,

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because I think that's absolutely disgusting that they've been

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taking money from people. They could be taken from an elderly.

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It wasn't nice to see.

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A few days later, Megan's out with friends in the village.

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I was having a few drinks with my friends in the club.

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The bar they're in is just down the road

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from the cashpoint in Esh Winning.

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That same night, the pair of thieves decide to return

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to plunder the village cash machine a third time!

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The man in a cap plants the devices.

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An unsuspecting member of the public's card is trapped.

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After he walks away, the other man in a cap arrives

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to steal the bank card.

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But this time, he's been spotted by more than just the CCTV camera.

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I came out for a cigarette with my friends

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and I spotted someone acting very strange at the cashpoint.

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And Megan's sure he's identical

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-to the man she saw on the police appeal.

-I couldn't believe my eyes.

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It was the same clothing, so it was definitely them!

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I thought, "It's my village, they're doing it in my village,

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"and I'm ringing the police."

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Megan phones 999.

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And where they've been seen, the man takes the captured card,

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but he leaves their devices in place.

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They aim to capture another card.

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But they've picked the wrong time to get greedy.

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As they watched their next victim lose his card,

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the police are on their way, thanks to Megan!

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Then we had some immediate response units

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and went off to them and stopped them.

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The two men are arrested.

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At the cash point, a team retrieve the camera and card trap.

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The thieves are caught carrying over £700 of other people's money.

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We were very satisfied we had enough evidence

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to get these two gentlemen charged and convicted of the offences.

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Mick pulls all the evidence together.

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In court, they are both found guilty

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and sentenced to 12 months in prison.

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It was a great result for ourselves and the constabulary as a whole.

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It sends out a clear message to anybody who's coming

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to County Durham to commit this type of crime that we will stop you,

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we will catch you and we will convict you.

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Social media has proved to be a useful tool in the fight

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against crime, and Megan's delighted with the part she played.

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It was quite a relief that they had been locked up

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and I was pleased with myself as well, for the fact that

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I rang the police and got criminals took off the street.

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This type of crime is, thankfully, rare.

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But there are things we can do

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to avoid falling victim to cashpoint scams.

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One of the easiest things

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is make sure nobody's looking over your shoulder.

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Hide your pin number, make sure people are far enough away from you

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or why are they so close?

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There are lots of devices that I've seen used by criminals,

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including a full fascia,

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which went over the entire cash machine.

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So, if there's any additional objects,

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or insecure things attached to it, then have some concerns about that.

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Are there any loose wires? Is there something that appears to be hanging

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from the machine that doesn't look like an average ATM machine?

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If there is an issue with the cash machine, and your card is

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swallowed, you might suddenly get a very helpful stranger, so just

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be wary that that person might actually be involved in the scam.

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If your card's been swallowed, contact the bank

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and, if you think it's a scam, contact the police.

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I wonder what burglars do when they go on holiday?

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Do they take a day off from crime? Or do they carry on

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with their day job and bring home stolen souvenirs?

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Bridlington, Yorkshire.

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Late night at a Chinese takeaway.

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A customer walks in and up to the counter.

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But this man's going to take away

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something more valuable than a Chinese meal.

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He's a burglar!

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When we saw this footage,

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we felt our blood literally run cold, cos someone had crept

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up into our private quarters while we were still there.

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The coastal town of Bridlington

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attracts tourists in the busy summer months.

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It's also home to Michael's family, who run this Chinese restaurant.

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Our whole family's involved.

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It started when we had a trailer and then,

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my mum eventually saved up enough money to buy this place.

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The restaurant's thrived, serving food that's authentic,

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because it's cooked by a real Chinese chef.

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Yang comes over to England to cook while his wife

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and family live in China.

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Our chefs actually live above the restaurant.

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Yang has been working with us for eight years, so, essentially,

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he is part of our extended family.

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The restaurant is open till late at night,

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so the family's installed CCTV, but there's never been any trouble.

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That is...

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until the Tuesday night in August,

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when this man walks into the takeaway part of the restaurant.

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It's late. The main restaurant has closed

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and the family are eating their own supper in the restaurant area,

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just the other side of the door on the right.

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Takeaway customers normally ring for staff to come

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and take their order, but this man doesn't.

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The bell didn't ring and we didn't think anyone came in.

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He seems interested in the stairs

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leading to the chef's living quarters.

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After taking a good look behind the counter,

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the man suddenly head upstairs.

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And a few minutes later, he creeps back down, clutching a laptop.

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He pauses to listen for a moment.

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Then hurries back out onto the street.

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When the family finish their supper,

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chef Yang goes back to his room and he gets a shock!

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He was obviously panicked, so he ran downstairs and he shouted at us,

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"My laptop and my phone's gone!"

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For Yang, so far from home, it's like losing a lifeline.

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He was very distressed, because, working here from China,

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it's the only way he can contact his wife and his family.

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Michael calls the police and then checks back on the CCTV.

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When we saw this footage, we felt our blood literally run cold,

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cos someone had crept up into our private quarters

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while we were still there!

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Michael is determined to find out who this burglar is.

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He shows the footage to a friend who works at the nearby pizza place.

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And he's in luck.

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His friend recognises the thief from earlier that evening.

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He told me he had been a bit... a bit lairy,

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just really there to make a nuisance of himself.

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But nobody knows the man's identity,

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and neither do the police when they arrive.

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Bridlington's not a big place

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and they're fairly sure he's not a local.

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Michael shares the pictures around town, so there's

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a lot of people looking out for the man and the stolen goods.

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And they were all really disgusted, cos, you know,

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this is quite a small town and we all know each other,

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and our regulars obviously felt really sorry for us.

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And then, a few days later,

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Michael gets a surprise call from his friend at the pizza place.

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And he says, "I've seen the guy! The guy who stole the laptop!

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"I'm hid in the bus stop looking at him right now."

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Michael's friend has already called 999 and keeps the man in sight.

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The police arrive and arrest him.

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Michael gets the news.

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We're like, "Great, what about the laptop and the phone?"

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And they said, immediately, that he

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had already said that he would be willing to give them back.

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Yang is very relieved.

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He was absolutely over the moon,

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cos it's practically being reunited with your family.

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And there's a reason nobody knows the man, because it turns out

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he's in Bridlington on holiday with his family.

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In court, the man pleads guilty to burglary

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and is sentenced to two years and five months in prison.

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Since the theft, Yang the chef makes sure he locks his door.

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And behind another locked door, this burglar must be regretting

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he never finished his short holiday,

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because now, he's going to be away from home a lot longer,

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serving time somewhere they don't serve takeaways.

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Back to Bacup, East Lancashire.

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And the attempted armed robbery at a shop and post office.

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Unusually, the raiders appear to be a man and a woman.

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Shopkeepers, Sunny and Komal, have been held up at gunpoint,

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but they have bravely refused to hand over any money.

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And when Sunny presses the alarm button,

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the panicked robbers take off.

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Detective Constable Haydn Sibley is investigating the case.

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Mr and Mrs Goplani were very shook up, which is understandable.

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Mr Goplani's has a firearm

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pushed in his face.

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It's been a terrifying ordeal! And afterwards, the couple realise

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how the robbery could've had a very different outcome.

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When we had time to ourselves, then it started sinking in.

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It was really shocking and frightening, you know. I was

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also thinking, "What would happen if anybody was hurt?" you know.

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The following day, they're still shaken,

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but Sunny and Komal are determined to carry on.

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When I woke up the next day morning, then I cried first time.

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It went into my... You know. ..head, like, "What has happened?"

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And I thought, "OK, no, we have to now forget this,"

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or keep it aside, otherwise, if we lose confidence,

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then you just lose it, you know, there's no point.

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They open up as usual the next day.

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At the same time, the police are doing all they can

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to catch this pair of criminals who are armed and potentially dangerous.

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We don't know what they're capable of and how far

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they're willing to go to get the money they need.

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We need to catch them before they go and commit another offence.

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Scenes of crime officers scoured the shop for traces of fingerprints

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and DNA evidence, but they draw a blank.

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Haydn studies the shop's CCTV and he notices,

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at one point during the robbery, the gunman's mask slips.

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The face covering lowers, which means we can see his face,

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giving us a chance of catching the subject.

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It's vital evidence. Now, with clear images from the CCTV,

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police can circulate the pictures around the local area,

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to see if anyone recognises the robbers or their clothing.

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Because Bacup is such a tightknit community,

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word spread very fast about what had happened at the post office.

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I think Mr and Mrs Goplani are very well liked in the area.

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We did receive some vital community information.

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Two names are put forward to the police.

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The suspects - a man and a woman - are arrested

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and brought in for questioning.

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Both were interviewed at Burnley Police Station.

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Both denied the offence in interview.

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Police have a clear CCTV image of a man with a gun and, when the

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male suspect is shown the footage, it's evidence that's hard to deny.

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Seeing this, he admitted his part in the offence.

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They got their man!

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But what about the woman?

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Haydn has no solid evidence that links her to the crime.

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He turns back to the CCTV.

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They suspect at the door is

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holding the hood of their jumper around their mouth.

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That person was shouting and demanding money.

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Haydn knows the missing jumper is the vital evidence he needs.

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If we recover that clothing,

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that person's saliva will be on the inside of that hoodie.

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Then there's a breakthrough!

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Police track down a bag hidden by the pair after the robbery,

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containing items used in the raid.

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This weapon and the clothing

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were hidden in a black bin bag at the rear of an associate's address.

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It's a metal air pistol

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and, if this is pointed in your face in an aggressive manner -

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like it was during this offence -

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you're going to be extremely frightened.

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And most important?

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The woman's hoodie is amongst the recovered clothes.

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It is an exact match. We have the stripes down the shoulders

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and we have the blue piping around the waist.

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It's sent to the forensic lab to see if it has traces of DNA.

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And it does!

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With both suspects identified,

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they are charged with attempted armed robbery.

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In court, the two raiders are sentenced to six years in prison.

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Haydn's pleased with the outcome.

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You don't often get a six-year sentence, but this is a violent case

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involving a firearm and I think the sentence is justified.

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Well, he's doing a wonderful job. Excellent job.

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Sunny and Komal have received

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a lot of support from neighbours and customers.

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They're determined not to let the incident

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spoil their enjoyment of running their shop.

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We will stay, because we both love our jobs.

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Mind you, Komal's not too happy about something else

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she noticed watching that CCTV -

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proof that Sunny has a habit of sneaking secret snacks.

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-Whenever it's quiet...

-Yeah.

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-..he always keeps eating.

-Eating.

-HE LAUGHS

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People always asking, "What, are you eating?"

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-"I'm hungry! That's why I'm eating."

-LAUGHTER

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That's it for today. Join us next time

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when police, and the public, catch more criminals red-handed.

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A couple come face to face with armed robbers but refuse to hand over their money, and secrets of the cash point scammers are revealed.