Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A pregnant shop assistant comes face to face with a ruthless gang of robbers in a supermarket.
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Thieves will steal our cash, our cars, our valuables,
just about anything they can get their hands on.
But now the police are using cutting-edge technology
to catch the bad guys.
CCTV is gold dust.
-Great evidence for the police.
-Got to have him stopped.
Local councils, shops and businesses are fighting crime
with their own tricks and traps.
There's a eureka moment when you get that evidence.
And the public are using secret cameras to make sure
crooks get their comeuppance.
It makes me feel so angry.
He's paid the price. He is being dealt with.
Yes! We've got her!
So, anyone who is up to no good had better think twice -
they might just get caught red-handed.
Today, a terrifying moment in a supermarket
when pregnant Candice and her colleague Sandra come face-to-face
with a ruthless gang of robbers.
It's the most horriblest thing in the world.
I just said to them, leave her alone.
And I'm hugging her and wouldn't let her go.
They aren't the only shop workers to be traumatised...
as the gang carries out a spree of raids all over Manchester.
But the police are on their trail.
Also today, a centre that helps adults with learning difficulties
is haunted by a mysterious figure in the night.
No broken glass, there's no broken locks, how he's got in,
we were baffled.
But all becomes clear a few days later.
The intruder strikes again.
He's a burglar and his actions threaten all the centre's good work.
To burgle us once is heartless, but to come back, it's just callous.
And when is an accident not an accident?
When it's deliberately caused by the car that gets hit.
This is a scam that every driver should know about.
a gang of robbers is on a seven-month rampage,
raiding over 20 stores.
Really violent, really chaotic, and they always had weapons with them.
Really dominating the poor victims who were in these places.
A game of cat and mouse between the police and the robbers
leads to an explosive showdown in the high street.
Six miles south-east of Manchester,
this convenience store in the town of Bredbury is run by Krishan.
After growing up helping in his father's shop,
he has made the leap to running his own business.
When I first got the shop, it was exciting
and it was nerve-racking as well.
It was hard to get the shop up and running.
You just basically learn as you go.
Learn from your mistakes.
30p, please, mate.
Krishan's father lent him the money to buy the store
and he's desperate to repay his trust.
I wanted to make my dad proud, to have him know that I could do it,
I could run the shop and I can make it a success
and pay him every penny back.
But just three months after taking on the business,
Krishan's dream comes crashing down when his shop is attacked
by a ruthless gang of thieves.
It's a Sunday evening in early autumn, closing time at the store,
and Krishan has just locked up.
Came home as normal, ate and went to bed.
While Krishan sleeps, the CCTV cameras are running at his shop.
It's 5am when these three hooded figures approach.
One of them has a large bag, normally used to carry rubble,
while another points a metal pole at the shutters protecting the store.
What happens next is shocking.
It's a ram raid with a 4x4 vehicle.
They've not quite broken through,
so the driver ploughs into the shop a second time...
..destroying the front.
The rest of the gang now pile in.
An infrared camera inside picks them up in the dark
as they ransack the store.
The gang are inside for just over a minute
before they come out carrying a builder's bag bulging with goods
they've stolen from Krishan's shop.
As they drive off, Krishan is woken at home
when the shop's alarm system sends an alert straight to his mobile.
The first thing I did was check the camera on my phone and I could see
the shop is an absolute mess.
Krishan drives straight there.
When I got there, the whole window was caved in.
I got inside and seeing the shop in pieces like that,
it was devastating.
He calls the police and then his family
to come and help him clean up the shop.
Krishan's losses and repair bill come to £10,000.
All sorts was going round in my head.
I was just in business for three months and then this has happened.
I had a target to pay my dad back and this is going to set me back.
I work hard, seven days a week,
and yet these people think they can come in,
they can rob and get away with it.
And Krishan's isn't the only local business to be attacked.
In South-east Greater Manchester,
there have been four other raids on stores
in the last month by armed robbers dressed in similar clothing.
And unlike Krishan's,
the robbers don't always wait for the businesses to close.
They also regularly threaten staff and customers
as they strip shelves and steal cash.
Greater Manchester Police put their Serious And Organised Crime group
on the case, led by Detective Inspector Robert Cousen.
It was brought to my attention that there were so many striking
similarities in these offences
that it had to be the same team.
Really violent, really chaotic, and they always had weapons with them,
whether it be a baseball bat or a bar, and they went in there,
really dominating the poor victims who were in these places,
just doing an honest day's work.
The first thing Robert's team find
is there's also been a rise in car theft in the area.
This group of lads who were committing these crimes
would break into houses, they'd steal the keys to the cars
and then they'd take them off the drive.
They would then use those cars in these violent robberies.
The 4x4 used to ram-raid Krishan's
turns out to have been stolen two weeks previously.
Watching CCTV evidence of the crime, one of the officers on the case,
Roy Storey, notes how well-organised the gang is.
It's typical of the type of offending they were doing.
You can see this one here has got a scaffold bar in his hand,
and whilst he is making sure nobody is leaving, to alert the police,
you see the two offenders there climbing over the counter,
they've got a large builder's bag here, that they open up,
and then you will see them getting trays and trays of cigarettes
from the display. Filling up that builder's bag.
Using a similar method for every raid,
the gang have been getting away with up to £20,000 worth
of cigarettes each time.
And with gloves worn and faces covered,
this gang will be tough to track down.
Later, in another shop raid,
Sandra tries to protect her pregnant colleague Candice from a terrifying
-She was just sobbing her heart out.
And all she was saying was, "I don't want them to hurt my baby."
And desperate to stop this gang,
the police mount a covert surveillance operation
on their chief suspects.
Can they catch them in the act?
What we are looking at here is literally
an accident that's waiting to happen.
But this is no accident,
because the driver of the blue car isn't a victim.
He's a criminal.
It turns out the driver has deliberately got a large truck
to run into the back of him
as part of a "crash for cash" insurance scam.
This is how it works.
The driver of the blue car
is operating in tandem with the black car up ahead.
Their target is the HGV truck behind them,
whose in-cab camera footage we are viewing.
The two cars stage a near miss
and the driver of the blue car slams on his brakes so hard,
the HGV truck is bound to hit him.
Later, the car driver puts in a claim
worth thousands for extensive damage to his car and injuries
to himself and his two passengers.
But what he doesn't realise is that this camera in the truck's cabin
has recorded the whole episode.
And as final proof it's a scam,
it shows the supposedly injured trio
getting out of the car as fresh as daisies.
For this and other fraudulent claims,
the driver is sentenced to 12 months in prison
and this crash-for-cash conman
has been taken off the road for real.
They say that lightning doesn't strike twice
but unfortunately when it comes to burglaries, that isn't the case.
Thieves can repeatedly hit the same target.
And it's not just homes -
business owners can also be victims of repeat crime.
A cold-hearted criminal steals from a centre
for adults with learning difficulties. Not once, but twice.
It was callous for somebody to take things
from the guys who most needed them.
Ilminster is a town in rural South-West Somerset.
On the high street, Jane runs a unique business,
a cafe and sweet shop combined with a training centre
for adults with learning difficulties.
Can you show Amy how to do this?
Jane started the centre seven years ago.
She wanted to improve the lives of people like her own daughter.
Amy has severe learning difficulties.
What I was aware of is that when she left college,
there was nothing out there
other than pretty uninspirational day services.
Alice doesn't need any help from me, do you, Alice?
-No, I don't.
-No, you're better than me, aren't you?
Jane was running a petrol station at the time
and sold it to fund her dream
of opening a day centre with a difference.
It's blossomed into a place where adults with learning difficulties
can socialise and train in new skills,
including computing, catering and making gifts to sell in the shop.
This is for table ten.
We are training them for work outside here.
Even if it isn't work, it's about taking an active part in life.
That's what they do. And love it and get a huge sense of achievement
out of what they do.
Chris has worked for Jane since he was 18 years old.
I never really knew what I was taking on at the time.
It is very rewarding.
And the gang that we have here are fantastic.
I wouldn't want to work anywhere else.
But when one week Jane goes on holiday...
Chris has to deal with an unexpected crisis.
It's nearly 2am on a Monday morning. The centre is closed.
But its CCTV cameras are switched on.
And they pick out the chilling sight of this intruder.
He's covered in a sheet to protect his identity.
He turns on the light in the main office
and then spends the next eight minutes
rummaging around the place...
..before running back out.
Their visit from a thief in the night
doesn't come to light until a few days later when Chris is cashing up
and realises over £250 is missing.
That was when my stomach sort of sank and I thought,
maybe we had a break-in.
There's no sign of a forced entry
so Chris decides to check the past week's CCTV recordings
for any clues as to what happened.
I went back, fast-forwarded right the way through
and then on the Sunday night, I saw the ghostly figure on the CCTV.
Chris is upset by what he sees
and by the lack of concern shown by the thief for the centre's work.
It's a very small town.
Everyone knows who we are in the town and what we do here,
so to come into here when they know the job we do here
and the people that we help...
He's taken the money which would then slow up us using that
for other projects. It's...
It's just not a nice feeling in your stomach, really.
Chris phones the police and then has to call Jane on her holiday
with the bad news.
When Chris called me,
I think the overwhelming sense was of huge disappointment and sadness.
Police take the video away.
But with the thief's face covered and no forensic evidence,
hopes aren't high that he can be caught.
And Chris is worried.
The intruder seems able to get in and out like a ghost without trace.
What if he comes back?
There's only two doors.
There's no broken glass, there's no broken locks.
And you're just wondering if and when it's going to happen again.
Chris comes up with a clever plan
to prevent the thief covering his tracks, if he does decide to return.
You always see these CSI programmes
where they can catch people through footprints or whatnot,
so we thought, we'll put some flour on a couple of steps,
which he'd have to go over to get into the building.
Chris was right to be worried.
At 5am the following Sunday morning,
the thief breaks into the centre again.
This time, he's wearing a hoodie
and carrying a backpack to fill with loot.
Later that day, Chris calls in the centre and has his weekend spoiled.
On the Sunday night, I'm walking past and I think, well,
I'll just pop in and check everything is OK.
I can see straightaway that the back door is bent and buckled.
Inside, it's devastation.
Doors and drawers had all been opened.
The till and the jars of sweets had all been pulled out.
Every time you enter another room, it just got worse and worse.
An expensive games console and other items had been stolen
from the computer room.
You just feel awful.
But this time, at least the thief hasn't vanished without a trace.
As I go up the steps, I can see footprints straightaway in the flour.
And the security cameras also provide vital evidence.
As you can see from the CCTV, it's daylight.
He's a lot more confident.
But the thief is about to make a bad error.
Getting ready to leave...
And he glances up at the camera and we thought, "got you now".
It's a lucky break.
The thief's image is sent round police stations
throughout the county.
A week later, an officer in nearby Yeovil recognises him.
The man is arrested and he admits to the burglaries.
And Chris is pleased to hear the footprints he captured in the flour
were useful for the forensic team.
I was told by an officer that was used to identify the person that had
broken in, so it must have helped somewhere along the line.
The burglar's arrest also means a happier return from holiday for Jane.
I was so pleased.
I'm not sure that he ever understood
the effect he was having on the people here but I did hope
that when he went to court that would...
Somebody would drum that home to him.
The 36-year-old thief was sentenced
to 11 months in prison for the burglaries.
He was able to get in because the centre's back door
had a faulty locking mechanism. It's since been replaced,
together with other security measures.
And much to Chris and James relief, the centre is now back on its feet.
Having Sweet Surprise has been both the hardest thing I've ever done
in my life, but also the most rewarding.
We'll keep going, we'll keep seeing the guys who come here grow
and hopefully the future for Sweet Surprise is onwards and upwards.
More than one in ten burglaries
happen at an address that's been burgled before.
So if somebody is a victim of crime,
what can they do to reduce the chance of it happening again?
If you have been the victim of burglary,
they'd have got in a particular way.
So one of the things to do
is to make sure they can't come in that way again.
So that means better locks or changing the layout of your store,
for example, all of which will put barriers in the way of them actually
being able to repeat. Because they'd have seen that as a success.
Have all your keys accounted for. Have they found a spare key
they might have been able to use to come back and steal again?
Don't advertise the fact that you've replaced all of the items
that you've had stolen by buying new TVs,
laptops and tablets and leaving all the packaging outside,
making it obvious to anybody walking past.
If you have been a victim of crime,
then use your local police force crime prevention service.
They can come out to your house, do a crime prevention survey,
which will indicate the weak spots in your house,
and obviously eliminate you becoming a victim of crime again.
In Greater Manchester, a gang of robbers are on a rampage.
In the last month, as well as the ram-raid on Krishan's store we saw earlier,
they've stormed into four other shops.
And Sandra and Candice were to be the next people to suffer
at the hands of this gang.
They work together at the same supermarket and have been
close for many years, as Sandra was friends with Candice's mum.
My mum passed away the last year of school.
So seeing Sandra and then working with her
is just having that little bit of bond
and that I know I can trust her and if I need her, she's there.
She sees me as a second mum.
And I see her as a daughter.
I know she's always there for me and she'll look after me.
And she's good. She is.
And Candice desperately needs Sandra's help when their shop comes under attack.
It's a Friday night in October, nearly 10pm.
Candice and Sandra are the only two working at the store.
Candice has recently found out she's pregnant with her first child.
I was really itching to tell Sandra about me being pregnant
but through the shift, I went no, I'd better not.
-I was on a late.
And Candice was on a late.
And everything was fine.
But it soon won't be.
The gang are coming.
All of a sudden, they came in.
And all we saw was balaclavas and Candice, she was screaming.
As usual, two of the gang start emptying cigarettes
into a builder's bag.
The third shouts at Sandra.
"Open the tills."
And I said, no.
I'm not opening the tills.
If you want money, go and work for it.
The gang member then uses a crowbar to try to force the till open.
I just stood there. I was shaking.
But I didn't want to show it.
But Candice is boxed in by the robbers
as they smash up the shop around her. She's terrified.
I was stuck. They could have hit me in the stomach.
It's the most horriblest thing in the world.
Thinking that they could have hurt my unborn child was horrendous.
And that's when I screamed out.
She said, "don't touch me - I'm pregnant."
I didn't know at the time.
And went straight to Candice.
As she goes to Candice,
Sandra even bravely pushes one of the robbers aside.
And I'm hugging her and I'm trying to really calm her down.
She was just sobbing her heart out.
And all she was saying was, I don't want them to hurt my baby.
I was just saying, I will stay with you, I won't leave you.
And I wouldn't let her go.
I just said to them, leave her alone.
And then she took my hand and she grabbed me and took me away.
And that's like a mother's love.
Moments later, the robbers finally leave.
And it was just over with. It was...
It was good for them to just go, basically.
An ambulance takes Candice to the hospital straightaway for a check.
Thankfully, her baby is found to be OK.
As Candice and Sandra are getting over their ordeal,
over the following months, the number of robberies escalates.
And more shop workers are terrorised by the gang.
Detective Inspector Robert Cousen's team, including officer Roy Storey,
are trying to track them down.
But it's not easy.
These crimes were happening every couple of days
and on some occasions, there was more than one in one day.
There's very little forensic evidence at the scene,
so what we have to do is find evidence from other sources.
We get intelligence from people, from the criminal world,
we get intelligence from members of the public.
And based on information they receive,
the police identify some prime suspects
they believe could be part of the gang.
We checked their previous offending history and that confirmed that they
were capable of using violence.
CCTV gathered from the building where one of the suspects lives
shows four men leaving just before a robbery was committed by offenders
dressed in similar clothes.
Shortly after, two of them returned to the same building.
I want to take them off the streets,
but I want to make sure that if I'm taking them off the streets,
that I'm doing it with evidence to convict them.
So the police start a round-the- clock surveillance operation
with undercover officers following the suspects.
Their behaviour is instantly suspicious.
They seem to be driving without any aim. They are not going from A to B.
They are just driving round.
They'll stop and look at supermarkets and potential targets and so on.
A couple of days into the operation,
officers see three of the suspects heading towards their car
with one carrying a plank of wood...
..similar to this one used to threaten people in an earlier robbery.
And that's not all.
In their previous raids,
the gang used a builder's sack to carry away the loot.
One of them goes back to the address and then comes out.
You see he is carrying a bin bag there.
And we believe inside that bin bag was a builder's sack.
So we are really on high alert, then,
expecting them to commit an offence.
The suspects are totally unaware they are being watched.
And soon, the surveillance team spot three of them apparently en route
to another robbery. They follow them and call in reinforcements.
Their plan - to catch the robbers red-handed.
A few minutes later,
a camera on an unmarked police car
shows the suspects parked outside their likely target,
We saw them putting their hoods up.
They were in all dark clothing, and one of them put a balaclava on.
So at this point, we know something is going to happen.
The unmarked police cars manoeuvre into position, ready for action.
Back at the station, it's Robert's call what happens next.
I made the decision that these people would be arrested
before they got to the supermarket.
I couldn't put people at risk inside that supermarket.
Police officers in four unmarked vehicles
block the robbers' car so they can't escape.
One of the suspects makes a run for it, pursued by an officer.
The robbers' car attempts to reverse out but another police car
brings it crashing to a standstill.
A second robber tries to run
but is wrestled to the ground outside the supermarket door.
Within a minute, all three robbers have been arrested.
In the boot, police find two planks of wood and a large builder's bag,
ready to be filled with stolen loot.
You see there, there's a house brick inside the vehicle.
We knew that they use them as weapons quite often.
See some of the suspects there, in handcuffs.
You can see how arrogant they are.
Putting their fingers up at the camera.
A robber boasts he'll do it again when he's released from jail.
They are pretending they are not bothered but I'm sure they're absolutely devastated.
They know where they're going and they know what they've been doing.
They know they're going to prison for a long time.
After raiding the suspects' houses,
police find clothing that has been used over the series of robberies
and seizing their phones,
they find pictures connecting them
with the stolen cars that were used as getaway vehicles.
Three more suspects are arrested and in the end,
six people aged 17 to 32 are charged
with conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to commit burglary.
In court, all six received lengthy sentences,
totalling more than 45 years in prison.
The three men arrested outside the supermarket
were sent down for nine and a half years each.
It was excellent work, to bring these people to justice,
and then for them to get substantial sentences.
It's a really good result.
In the time since,
Candice and Sandra have both got over their frightening experience
and Candice has had a boisterous baby boy.
He's a monkey. He just wants to play all the time.
Yeah, I'm really lucky to have him.
I'm really lucky to have him.
Do you want to draw Mummy?
We call Sandra "Auntie Sandra".
You know I'll always be there for you.
-Oh, I know that.
That's all for today.
Join us next time to see some other villains
who've been caught red-handed.
A pregnant shop assistant has a terrifying moment in a supermarket when she comes face to face with a ruthless gang of robbers. And a centre for adults with learning disabilities is haunted by a mysterious figure in the night.