Episode 18 Caught Red Handed


Episode 18

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. When a teenager gets home late in the small hours of the morning, she finds a burglar waiting at the door.


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Transcript


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Thieves will steal our cash, our cars, our valuables.

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Just about anything they can get their hands on.

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But now the police are using cutting-edge technology

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to catch the bad guys.

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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 fighting crime

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with their own tricks and traps...

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There's a eureka moment when you get that evidence.

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..and the public are using secret cameras to make sure

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crooks get their comeuppance.

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It makes me feel so angry.

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He's paid the price. He's being dealt with.

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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, when teenager Charlotte gets home in the small hours

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of the morning, it's not her mother waiting at the door.

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It's another woman and she's a burglar.

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I was about to go, "Oh, Mum, are you all right?"

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This lady turned round and it wasn't my mum.

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At that moment I was like, "So where's my mum?"

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The burglar does a runner but Charlotte is determined

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not to let her escape.

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Also today, Georgina has a new job running a travel agent's.

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But it suddenly comes crashing down around her.

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CAR CRASHES

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I had been manager one day and we got ram raided.

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It turns out the short-sighted raiders really meant to ram into

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John's fashion store next door.

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You go and steal a car, drive it into the wrong shop.

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How can you be so stupid?

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But first, Neil and Andrew's family shop has survived

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more than a century and two world wars.

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But now it's under attack from thieves.

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It's just so frustrating.

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It's so, so frustrating.

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Neil comes up with a cunning plan that flushes out one of the culprits.

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But the crook comes up with a cunning answer.

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He was protesting that his human rights were being contravened.

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The city of Cambridge is famous for being a place of ancient learning

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and amongst the many historic buildings in the city centre there's

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a hardware store which, as managing director Neil Mackay will tell you,

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has a long history of its own.

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Mackay's has been here since 1912.

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We've been through two wars,

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loads of recessions and my forebears set it up on the basis

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of - let's make ourselves useful and do things for the community.

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And it's kept us going for the last 104 years.

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Neil's son, Andrew, is next in line to take over.

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It was never something I was pressured into.

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I absolutely love it.

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We have successfully passed the third generational curse which

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they talk about a lot in family businesses.

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I am now the fifth generation into the business and hopefully that's

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going to continue a long way into the future.

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But the family's business has recently come under threat from

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persistent thieves. Neil estimates that in the past year alone,

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£35,000 worth of goods have been stolen.

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It has a huge effect.

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It takes 10 to 12 sales to replace one that's stolen.

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And the actions of this thief prove to be the last straw for Neil.

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It's a Monday afternoon in February.

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A man in a grey beanie hat walks in.

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The store has around 30 cameras.

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He is captured as he wanders round.

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We invested in and installed our own CCTV systems and gradually expanded

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it to try and catch every nook and cranny we've got in the shop.

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It's not easy.

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The man in the hat starts off in one of the few camera blind spots,

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where he stops by a shelf and loiters for a bit,

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but walks away when these other customers come near.

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He crouches down where the camera can't see exactly what he's doing.

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But shop supervisor Nigel has spotted him acting suspiciously.

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He was looking down.

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He was on his hands and knees, looking at the magnets.

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I was just behind this stand watching him.

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And at this point, he squeezed the packet where the magnets were,

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dropped into his hand and proceeded straight out the back of the shop.

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The man's not aware that he's been seen pocketing this specialised

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and quite expensive magnet and that Nigel now suspects him.

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The man leaves the store and following close behind him is Nigel,

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who calls to a colleague to come with him in case things turn nasty.

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They confront the man in the car park.

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He says, "What item?" or "What magnet?"

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Then I mention the magnet that he had taken out the packet.

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He told me that he'd left it in the store, on the shelf.

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Nigel asks the man to show him where he left it.

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At this point he took the magnet out of his left pocket

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and handed it to me.

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The man pauses for a second and then runs.

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Nigel chases him.

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I wasn't too worried about my safety because the adrenaline's there.

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I did it because I don't think they should get away with it.

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But the thief's too fast for Nigel and does get away.

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After losing so much money through shoplifting recently,

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this latest attempt to steal from his store leaves the owner

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near at the end of his tether and determined to track the man down.

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I got so frustrated that I decided enough was enough.

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What I was going to do was make a poster.

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I put lines across his face so you couldn't actually identify him.

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I was well aware people had been prosecuted for doing things like this.

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My dad is a bit of a character.

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When he gets the bit between his teeth he really goes after it.

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He has a cracking imagination.

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Neil puts up a wanted poster for Mr Magnet Man in the shop,

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appealing for information.

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Then he contacts the local paper.

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They printed it complete with the lines across his face so you couldn't actually identify him.

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What happens next takes everyone by surprise.

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The police were on the phone saying that the gentleman by the name

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of Mr Magnet Man had pitched up to complain his human rights were being contravened.

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Apparently he was protesting that his boss had spotted it

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and no longer trusted him and sacked him.

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So he was looking for compensation from us.

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Would you believe? It's beyond belief.

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-You couldn't write it.

-Officers can't believe it either.

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The police then said, well, would you like us to prosecute?

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I said, yes, please.

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The police arrested him for theft.

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He's not the brightest tool in the tool box.

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I think if he hadn't gone in to complain, he probably would have got away with it!

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In court, the man was found guilty of stealing the magnet.

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He was ordered to pay a victim's surcharge of £40,

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£620 costs and fined £400 for his trouble.

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That's a grand total of £1,060.

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Encouraged by the success of his wanted poster for Mr Magnet Man,

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Neil now does posters for all the thieves who've been caught stealing

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from his store on CCTV.

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Named after their crimes,

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they are displayed on a wall of shame in the store.

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The amazing thing is, every single one of the people in my

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rogues' gallery has been taken seriously by the police and has been

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either arrested, fined or is in prison

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as a result.

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And with theft now down in the store,

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Neil and his family can look to the future.

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We've been here on the same site for 104 years and we hope to keep going

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for many more generations.

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We're looking at the view from a security camera showing a suburban

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back garden. The house owners are having a conservatory built by a double glazing company.

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It's not exactly what you'd think of as a crime scene, so far.

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The angry man on the phone is a builder,

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A contractor hired by the double glazing company to build the brick

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wall that supports their conservatory.

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He's arrived on site, complaining he hasn't been paid for the work.

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Failing to resolve his dispute with the double glazing company on

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the phone, the builder and his men begin to act in an extraordinary and

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horrifying way, smashing down the wall with sledgehammers.

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It's terrifying for the homeowner and his wife,

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who are watching from their living room when these builders suddenly,

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literally put their home under the hammer.

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Their conservatory is left teetering on a precipice.

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But this angry builder does get his comeuppance.

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He is prosecuted, summoned to court and convicted of malicious damage.

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His rampage results in him being ordered to complete 270 hours

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of unpaid work in the community.

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He was also put under a supervision order for a year.

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The other good news is the homeowners end up getting

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an even better conservatory. The glazing company rebuild it,

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this time enlisting a slightly more chilled out builder.

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On average, there's a burglary in Britain every 40 seconds.

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Burglars are on the lookout for opportunities 24 hours a day.

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These pictures come from a taxi's dashboard camera,

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normally used for evidence in road accidents,

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but this one picks up evidence of a burglar escaping the scene of a crime.

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Unusually, the burglar's a woman and so is her young victim,

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-who gives chase.

-You don't know what she's got on her.

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Could she have a knife? Could she have anything?

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You don't know what kind of lady she is.

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The village of Birchington-on-Sea

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is home to Lynn and her 18-year-old daughter Charlotte.

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They settled here after leaving London 14 years ago.

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I moved down when Charlotte was four and the reason I came down here was

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because my dad retired down here.

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Dad was always around to make sure that Charlotte was fed and watered,

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so to speak, as I was a busy mum, always working.

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He was always there. We were like The Three Musketeers, you know?

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Charlotte loved having her grandad live next door because they

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shared a passion for dancing and as she grew up,

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together they formed a plan that Charlotte would one day start

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-a dance school.

-He'd have all his '50s and '60s music on.

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She'd be often dancing in the front room.

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Every weekend I'd go out to like little social club with him and go

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rock and roll dancing with him.

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But Charlotte's much-loved grandfather died five years ago.

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Just before he passed away we went on a holiday to Norwich and we were

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walking on the beach and there was an arcade called Silver Slipper.

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We all kind of looked and went, "That's the name for a dance school."

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From that day, we said Silver Slipper would be...

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I'm getting emotional.

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We both miss him desperately, yeah.

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Charlotte has been through another sad time this year.

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She gained a place at a dance college,

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but due to illness her dreams of becoming a professional dancer were

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ruined and a series of operations left her at a low ebb.

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It was meant to be the year.

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Everyone says, it's going to be the year, but it hasn't been the year.

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I said, "What do I want to do with my life?"

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I said, "I'm going to open my own performing arts school."

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Determined to make the best of things,

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Charlotte started to try to set up her own dance school.

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But they say bad things come in threes and she received a third blow

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when her home was burgled.

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It's 5am on a mid-week summer morning.

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Charlotte's been out very late on a big night out.

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I was out with loads of my friends.

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I rang a taxi to obviously take me home.

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Once I got into the taxi, it was a lady.

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And I've never actually seen a lady taxi driver at that time in the

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morning. I was like, "All right?" Just chatting away.

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The taxi has a dashboard camera constantly recording and it shows

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what happens when they reach Charlotte's road.

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She's a lovely lady, so, obviously she said,

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"I'll wait for you to go in." I was like, "Thank you so much."

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Charlotte walks back to her house,

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checking her car is locked on the way.

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As she nears home, out of the camera's view,

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she spots someone by her front door.

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I saw a lady leaving our house and I thought it was my mum,

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so I was about to go, "Oh, Mum, you all right?

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"Sorry I'm in late." This lady turned around and it weren't my mum.

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Charlotte can't believe her eyes.

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Just looked at her. I was like, "Who are you?"

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And she was like, just looked at me stunned.

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The woman's carrying some bags.

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I could see they were filled with my stuff.

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They weren't closed. She hadn't closed the bags.

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I went, "What you doing with them?" She went, "Someone sold them to me.

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"Someone sold them to me." She was panicking herself.

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So I kind of took the bags off her.

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Then Charlotte notices the woman

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is holding the front door key of their house.

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Mum used to leave a door key out for me.

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At that moment I kind of looked towards my mum's car

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and was kind of like, OK, she's actually home, so where's my mum?

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Frightened what may have happened to her mum,

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Charlotte leaves the woman and rushes inside.

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The thief runs away, carrying a stolen bottle of wine.

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She runs past the taxi with its camera recording.

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Back at the house, Charlotte's relieved to find her mum safe and sound in bed.

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I tried waking her up and she was fine.

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She was like, "What, what are you doing?"

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I went, "Mum, we're getting burgled." She went, "What, what?"

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I just sort of woke up, startled, didn't really know what was going on.

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Outside, the taxi driver moves forward

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after she hears Charlotte shouting.

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I just saw the taxi and I was, like, help is there.

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The driver says she saw the woman run by and Charlotte asks if she can

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follow her. Charlotte gives chase on foot,

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despite losing a shoe in the process.

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While sprinting, I was calling the police,

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because obviously I didn't know if she was harmful.

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You don't know what she's got on her, could she have a knife,

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could she have anything? You don't know what kind of lady she is.

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The taxi driver searches the local street,

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but there's no sign of the thief.

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She'd gone, by that time, but she went to me, "I've got it on camera".

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I went, "What?" She went, "I've got her on camera". I went, "Really?"

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She went, "Yeah, we've got a dash cam."

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So, instantly I thought, "OK, we might have her."

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The police soon arrived.

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They asked Charlotte if anything's been stolen.

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At first I was, like, "Well, I've taken everything off her,"

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because I had all the bags that she had in her hands.

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The police go, "Look round the house,

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"make sure you've got everything."

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They do a thorough search and find that jewellery and Lynn's expensive watch are missing.

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And that's not all.

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She'd got my keys and gone into my car,

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and taken all my money out of my car.

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We have a cupboard in the kitchen that has emergency money in it for me.

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The money had all gone from there as well.

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She must have been in the house for quite a long time,

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to go through everything.

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And all while Lynn was asleep.

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Scary, very scary.

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I try not to think about it, really.

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Just put it to the back of my head.

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The thief had got in using Lynn's front door key,

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which had been hidden outside.

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We got the locks changed that day.

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I'd never leave the key out again, ever.

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Because the thief didn't break in, they can't claim anything on insurance.

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But the police call a couple of days later with some better news -

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all thanks to the taxi camera's footage.

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They said, "We've caught a lady and we think it's her."

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They've gone to me, "Can you do a video parade?"

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I was, like, "Oh, no.

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"What if I get it wrong?"

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Charlotte overcomes her nerves and goes to the station to look at video

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images of people the police have compiled.

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I just kept looking at this one.

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I was like, "That's her". They were like, "Are you sure?"

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It was the eyes. You know, you just don't forget eyes.

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Charlotte's identification of the thief,

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together with the taxi cam recording,

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helps the police press charges.

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The woman also admits to other crimes.

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In court, for two burglaries and one theft, plus other offences,

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she was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

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Charlotte played a key role in helping bring the thief to justice.

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It's really scary, isn't it?

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To think we had a burglar in the house and you went after them.

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And I lost my shoe.

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And Charlotte didn't allow the setbacks to prevent her

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from doing what she loves.

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Step and a kick, good.

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At just 18 years old,

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she's achieved what her grandfather had wanted her to do.

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With money left by him, and funds from her mum,

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she's opened a performing arts school.

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My grandad, hopefully, would be really proud of me.

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I want to nurture little children from the age of walking and make

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sure they're on stage and have the opportunities that I had as a child as well.

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Charlotte's a very strong character.

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She's had a real tough year, but she's very determined.

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If she wants something, she normally gets it.

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I think she'll make Silver Slipper a very big success.

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We've got so many exciting things coming up.

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We're trying to look for the future,

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and that's all you've really got to do with life.

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Leaving a front door key where burglars can easily find it is just

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one of the common mistakes people make which thieves pounce on.

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There's a couple of other things that people do,

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people leave mobile phones out their back pocket,

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their wallets in their back pocket.

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The best advice is anything of value, you need to put in your front pockets.

0:19:070:19:10

I've often seen members of the public out with handbags and purses.

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They leave their handbag and purse on the bonnet of the car whilst they

0:19:140:19:17

are loading a child into a car.

0:19:170:19:19

Again, leaving themselves vulnerable.

0:19:190:19:21

Don't leave your keys in your car, particularly when defrosting it.

0:19:210:19:24

If someone steals your car in that way, your insurance may be invalid.

0:19:240:19:28

And when you fill up at a petrol station, lock your vehicle,

0:19:280:19:31

take the keys with you when you go and pay for your fuel or any goods

0:19:310:19:34

you're buying, then come back to it.

0:19:340:19:36

That also ensures that any handbags or any other belongings

0:19:360:19:40

in your car are safe whilst you're not actually with it.

0:19:400:19:42

Don't announce the fact that you're going on holiday on social media.

0:19:420:19:45

It's simply an invitation to wannabe thieves and burglars

0:19:450:19:49

to come and attack your home.

0:19:490:19:51

We think we're just talking to friends when we post information

0:19:510:19:53

about this, but it's amazing how far that information can travel.

0:19:530:19:57

It's 3am and, in Gloucester,

0:20:070:20:09

where they claim the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty comes from,

0:20:090:20:12

this youth climbs onto an egg-shaped fibreglass sculpture nicknamed

0:20:120:20:16

Scrumpty Dumpty by local rugby fans.

0:20:160:20:19

He enjoys the view for a while,

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then one of his mates starts kicking poor Scrumpty.

0:20:210:20:24

Maybe this numpty on top is heading for a great fall.

0:20:240:20:29

But no, the lad scrambles off the egg and it seems like Scrumpty

0:20:290:20:34

may survive sunny side up.

0:20:340:20:36

That is, until the lad in blue snaps off the spoon handle from his head.

0:20:360:20:41

It's his silly idea of a joke.

0:20:410:20:44

But the yolk is on them,

0:20:440:20:46

because they've done the damage in full view of a CCTV camera.

0:20:460:20:51

And when the footage is released,

0:20:510:20:53

all the king's horses and all the king's men,

0:20:530:20:56

in the form of a group of angry locals,

0:20:560:20:59

take a hard-boiled view of their behaviour and come after the vandals.

0:20:590:21:03

The vandals are left with egg on their faces.

0:21:050:21:07

They own up and soon have to help put poor Scrumpty together again.

0:21:070:21:12

Ram raiders smash in to a travel agent's.

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But they've got the wrong shop. So, take two.

0:21:240:21:27

This time, they hit their intended target - the fashion store next door.

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It's laughable, but no-one's laughing.

0:21:350:21:38

This store's owners lose clothing worth thousands,

0:21:380:21:41

and the travel agent's has been half demolished.

0:21:410:21:44

There was just glass absolutely everywhere.

0:21:440:21:48

It was very upsetting to see my store in that kind of state.

0:21:480:21:53

The largest city in the south-west of England, Bristol,

0:22:020:22:06

has a thriving retail centre.

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After spending most of his working life in the fashion industry,

0:22:090:22:12

John became co-founder of a new high street clothes shop here in 2010.

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We found a niche.

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I think it's customers that like to dress up, like to go out,

0:22:190:22:23

just like a bit of fun.

0:22:230:22:25

It's what fashion's meant to be, really, just a bit of fun.

0:22:250:22:29

They sell high-value fashion brands.

0:22:290:22:32

But as the store is not part of a chain, John and his colleagues,

0:22:320:22:36

like co-founder Michael, have had to put their life savings into it.

0:22:360:22:40

We've all given up everything to start this.

0:22:400:22:43

It's not like we have millions and millions of pounds behind us

0:22:430:22:47

like a big fashion brand would have.

0:22:470:22:50

Next door to John and Michael's store, there's a travel agent's,

0:22:500:22:54

where Georgina has just been promoted to manager.

0:22:540:22:58

It was a massive achievement, really, really pleased.

0:22:580:23:02

So, yeah, really proud that I got to this stage.

0:23:020:23:06

What I love about my job is the excitement on clients' faces

0:23:060:23:10

when they book their dream holiday.

0:23:100:23:12

That's really, really rewarding, to see people so happy.

0:23:120:23:16

But, unlike their customers, Georgina,

0:23:180:23:20

John and Michael are about to be far from happy when their neighbouring

0:23:200:23:25

businesses are both attacked by ram raiders on the same night.

0:23:250:23:29

It's a Wednesday night in June.

0:23:330:23:35

Coming up to 2am,

0:23:350:23:37

a white car drives into the street

0:23:370:23:39

outside the travel agent's and fashion store.

0:23:390:23:42

A local CCTV camera is filming when the car suddenly reverses...

0:23:440:23:49

..and smashes through the window of Georgina's travel agent's.

0:23:500:23:54

It's a ram raid.

0:23:540:23:56

LOUD CRASH

0:23:560:23:58

The sound shocks a man sitting at the bus stop nearby.

0:23:580:24:01

He turns to see what's going on.

0:24:010:24:03

But then the car pulls out of the travel agent's.

0:24:030:24:06

The burglars have realised they've smashed into the wrong shop front.

0:24:060:24:10

It turns out their real target is John and Michael's

0:24:100:24:14

fashion store next door. So, moments later,

0:24:140:24:17

the car repositions and ploughs into their window, too.

0:24:170:24:21

Two raiders get out of the passenger doors

0:24:230:24:26

and grab as many clothes as they can.

0:24:260:24:28

A minute later, they jump back in the car and the driver races away.

0:24:290:24:34

At home, nearby,

0:24:380:24:39

Georgina is woken by the security firm telling her what's happened.

0:24:390:24:43

She rushes straight there.

0:24:440:24:46

Both the shop fronts were just completely open,

0:24:460:24:49

so anyone could have walked in.

0:24:490:24:51

There was just glass absolutely everywhere, all over the pavement,

0:24:510:24:56

all over the road, in the shop.

0:24:560:24:58

I think especially because I'd just been promoted,

0:24:580:25:02

it was very upsetting to see my store in that kind of state.

0:25:020:25:06

By now, Michael is also on his way after being alerted about what's

0:25:060:25:11

happened to his fashion store.

0:25:110:25:13

Obviously initial shock, you don't really know what you're going

0:25:140:25:17

to head into. That kind of gut-wrenching feeling.

0:25:170:25:21

When he arrives, he's stunned to find a scene of devastation.

0:25:210:25:25

Glass here, on the floor, all the product underneath, damaged.

0:25:250:25:29

All these rails were empty.

0:25:290:25:31

Then obviously that went through to next door as well.

0:25:310:25:34

We couldn't see what was next door, but from what we could,

0:25:340:25:37

it looked like it had been ransacked.

0:25:370:25:39

Michael realises that thousands of pounds' worth of items have been stolen.

0:25:390:25:43

That was the worst feeling, how is this going to affect not only

0:25:430:25:46

our futures, but the people that work here?

0:25:460:25:49

We've all given up everything to start this.

0:25:490:25:51

All this effort, all this sacrifice that you've done,

0:25:510:25:55

and it's just been taken away like that.

0:25:550:25:58

As well as the £20,000 worth of stock that's been taken,

0:25:580:26:02

Michael and John also face a hefty bill to repair the shattered storefronts.

0:26:020:26:07

We don't have the large reserves of a bigger company behind

0:26:070:26:10

us and we don't have deep pockets where we can just throw money

0:26:100:26:13

at the situation to make it better.

0:26:130:26:16

But John and Michael find a way to make the best of a bad situation.

0:26:160:26:20

The raiders' comedy of errors,

0:26:200:26:22

and their bungling behaviour is so extraordinary it's easy to publicise.

0:26:220:26:27

This is ridiculous.

0:26:270:26:28

They've gone into the wrong shop, they reversed out again.

0:26:280:26:32

How can you be so stupid?

0:26:320:26:33

You know, there's got to be a story here.

0:26:330:26:35

John came up with the line, should have gone to Specsavers.

0:26:350:26:39

The press picked up on the headline and I think with that comical value,

0:26:390:26:45

that's what made the story run.

0:26:450:26:46

The story appears across the national media,

0:26:460:26:49

with everyone amused by the confused ram raiders.

0:26:490:26:52

And it leads to the police receiving some information.

0:26:520:26:55

They raid an address which turns out to be full of items that were stolen

0:26:570:27:00

from the fashion store.

0:27:000:27:02

They arrest two men and a woman for handling stolen goods.

0:27:020:27:06

The police were amazing.

0:27:070:27:09

I mean, obviously you have a sense of justice being done.

0:27:090:27:12

Someone has been caught, someone has been held accountable for it.

0:27:120:27:16

In court, the woman was given a 12-month community order,

0:27:190:27:23

while the two men were given 12 and 14-month prison sentences,

0:27:230:27:27

suspended for two years.

0:27:270:27:29

All three had to pay costs.

0:27:290:27:31

John's brainwave to release that comedy angle of a gang of short-sighted

0:27:350:27:39

shop raiders to the media has paid dividends for both his fashion store

0:27:390:27:43

and the travel agent's.

0:27:430:27:45

You create awareness, you know, good or bad.

0:27:450:27:48

People now know about Garment Quarter

0:27:480:27:50

that might not have known about it before.

0:27:500:27:53

It drew attention and then people started coming in and actually

0:27:530:27:57

-shopping with us more.

-What kind of dates were you looking for?

0:27:570:28:00

I do think it has put us on the map,

0:28:000:28:02

because more people do know about us and people do still comment,

0:28:020:28:06

saying you're the store that was ram raided.

0:28:060:28:09

You can hit us once, but you won't knock us down.

0:28:090:28:12

It's as simple as that.

0:28:120:28:14

That's all for today. Join us next time to see some more villains

0:28:210:28:25

getting their just deserts when they're Caught Red Handed.

0:28:250:28:28

When a teenager gets home late in the small hours of the morning, it is not her mother waiting at the door - it's a burglar. And when a family shop comes under attack from thieves the owner comes up with a cunning plan, but the crook comes up with a cunning answer...