Episode 20 Caught Red Handed


Episode 20

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A brave woman who survived one of Italy's biggest earthquakes finds herself in even more danger in Manchester.


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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

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are fighting crime 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 crooks

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get their comeuppance.

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It makes me feel so angry.

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He's paid the price. He's been 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, brave Elena survived one of Italy's biggest earthquakes,

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but finds herself in even more danger on the streets of Manchester.

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I started a new life in another country that doesn't shake.

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I didn't think that actually something could happen to me here.

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No earthquakes in Manchester, but Elena suddenly fears for her life

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again at the hands of a vicious street robber.

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The violence involved in it, it could have killed me.

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Also today, Robin runs a thriving tourist centre.

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His pedal powered go-karts are one of the most popular attractions.

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Until late one night, £1,500 worth of the go-karts go missing.

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These kids are out on the rampage. Where do they live?

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Why weren't they missed?

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But Robin's go-karts certainly are missed.

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He needs to track down the thieves.

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But first, 84-year-old Diana has raised thousands of pounds

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for charity.

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But while she's been doing good deeds,

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someone has uncharitably been stealing from her

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and husband Norman over and over again.

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I just felt sick.

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She held a job of trust.

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It's just unbelievable.

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But Diana's son Stephen wants to outsmart the thief

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who's deceived his parents.

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You see clips of my poor father shuffling into the kitchen to

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make this woman a cup of tea, while she's raiding my mum's handbag.

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That's really hard.

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The village of Oxspring near Barnsley is home

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to 84-year-old great-grandmother Diana and her husband Norman.

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They've been happily married for 63 years.

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I was born in Barnsley, bought up in Barnsley.

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My father was a policeman.

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He took a pub just down the road here

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and that's where I met my husband.

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Diana took to life in the country,

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working hard with Norman to make a success of his

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local butchery business, whilst also bringing up their two sons,

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Michael and Stephen, on the family farm.

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Mum is a very bubbly character.

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She lives life and has lived life to the full.

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She's a person who makes things happen.

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When she and Norman retired,

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Diana didn't want to just put her feet up and relax.

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I was very active.

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Did a lot of charity work, especially for Bluebell Wood,

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the children's hospice.

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She's done some zany things.

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I mean, she did a fancy dress at the Women's Institute.

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They went as calendar girls with the Yorkshire Post newspaper

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around them. She's that sort of person. She likes to have a laugh.

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Diana helped raise £87,000 for the children's hospice.

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With her heart set on reaching 100,000,

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poor health began to hold her back.

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Mum's been in and out of hospital a lot of times.

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She's both false knees, hips,

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shoulders and she's got a back implant as well.

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It's made me lame, which has reduced me to that silly pusher.

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Because I'm in the Isle of Man, we feel awkward, you know,

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we can't help.

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Recently, Diana's health deteriorated to the point

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she needed to hire a carer, but the woman she trusted to look after her

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proved to be anything but caring.

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It's late summer, and at a charity lunch,

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Diana is discussing her personal care needs with two women

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who have also come along to the function.

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Diana's worried about the cost of care,

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but one of the women has a proposition.

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She says, "You know, Diana, don't bother with council carers

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"and other carers. We'll help you if you pay us."

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Oh, I thought, "That's lovely." You know?

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Diana hires both women on the spot to help her and Norman

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with general household tasks.

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We were very pleased when she told us that she'd got someone local.

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We thought, "That's great, and if Mum's happy, we're happy."

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For over 12 months, the arrangement works well for Diana and Norman.

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The women become not just carers, but companions, too.

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Mum took them on holiday and paid for them

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and they were like family, really.

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But those happy times are not to last.

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In October, over a year after the arrangement started,

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Diana begins to find her pension money,

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which she keeps in her handbag in the kitchen,

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is less than it should be.

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I said to a friend of mine, "I don't know what's happening to my money.

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"I don't seem to have any."

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We didn't like asking what she was spending her money on

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because it's none of our business, really.

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And she's with it enough to tell us that, as well.

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"It's none of your business what I'm doing with my money!"

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I thought I was going daft.

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You know, I thought there's something happening here,

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I'm losing my marbles.

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A month later, Diana's still noticing that money

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is going missing.

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So, for peace of mind, Stephen installs a hidden camera,

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disguised as a burglar alarm sensor

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to keep an eye on his mum's handbag.

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This process of putting the camera in was just one way of eliminating

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certain things. It could have been any visitor, couldn't it,

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coming in and possibly taking money.

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As Stephen lives on the Isle of Man,

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he sets up a large hard drive to record several weeks' worth

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of video that he can check next time he visits.

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It's like my eye, if you like, on this house.

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When Stephen returns to see his mum and dad,

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his wife's suspicions are raised before they even look

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at the CCTV recordings.

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Carol happened to walk into the kitchen and she saw the carer doing

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something with Mum's bag.

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Straight away then, it was red alert.

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But of course, have we got anything on this camera

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that's been quietly sat there?

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As soon as they get home, Stephen and his wife check the video.

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Quite quickly we came across one clip showing the carer

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with her hand in Mum's handbag.

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Stephen watches on, horrified, as the extent of the thieving unfolds.

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I found another clip...

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and another...

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and another.

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And the monotonous regularity of this was incredible.

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He stays up all night viewing weeks and weeks of footage,

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determined to find every theft caught on camera.

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I finished on Saturday lunchtime, I had 60 odd clips.

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It's not opportunistic at all.

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It's very carefully thought out.

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She looked in the cheque book, so she knew how much money

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was coming in on a certain day and then she's there,

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counting, on her fingers.

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You know, and then, making an adjustment.

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Then you see clips of my poor father shuffling into the kitchen

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to make this woman a cup of tea, while she's

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raiding my mum's handbag. I mean...

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That's really hard.

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That's really hard.

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With a heavy heart, he has to break the news to his mother

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that the carer she regarded as a close friend is nothing of the sort.

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I said, "Mum, sorry, I've got some bad news for you.

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"Your carer's been stealing from you."

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But she didn't really believe me.

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She didn't want to believe me, really.

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"She can't be." I said, "Mum, just wait, I'll show you this."

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When she sees the video, Diana can't believe her eyes.

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I just felt sick.

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I just felt...

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that somebody had hit me.

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She held a job of trust.

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How she could do it, it's just unbelievable.

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What upsets Diana most is the cold, calculating way the carer

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pulled the wool over her eyes.

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She puts me in the shower, straight in, sat down,

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handbag, straight up,

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pocket...

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She is so slick.

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One day, she came back three times.

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She even went in on Christmas Day!

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Awful.

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Stephen takes the video evidence to the police

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and the woman is arrested.

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After analysing the footage themselves,

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the police estimate that, all in all, she stole £3,600 from Diana.

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I think she should be made to watch it, to see what she did.

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That's something I feel really strong about.

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I don't think she thought it were any thing wrong.

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She mustn't have done or she wouldn't have gone on

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doing it, would she?

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In court, the woman pleaded guilty to theft

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and was jailed for ten months.

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Diana no longer keeps cash in the house

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and has put her trust in new care providers.

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I'm really happy with the new carers.

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They're very, very nice.

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They see to me and help me and they're very good,

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very kind and very good.

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That's what you need.

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Mum's a determined person.

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You know, she's had a lot of problems with her health

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and battled through that, and so she's stayed strong through this.

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I've put it behind me now,

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and I look forward to each day as it comes.

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A lot of couples like to go shopping together,

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but this pair set about it in a devious way.

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They spot a mirror they fancy outside a shop.

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A few minutes later,

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the man returns without his walking stick,

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and looking as fit as a butcher's dog, he pinches it.

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Another security camera shows how he then stashes it in the car park

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behind the very shop he's stolen it from,

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while his girlfriend waits for him, stick in hand.

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Next, he calls a cab to take them and their stolen mirror home.

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But in the end, all this reflects rather badly on the thief,

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as his crime and his face have been caught on camera.

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The police simply call the taxi company to get his address

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and next thing, he's in court being sentenced to four years in prison

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for multiple counts of theft and other offences.

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Now, that should give him ample time to take a long, hard look

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at himself.

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Being robbed is a horrendous experience,

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made even worse if physical assault is involved.

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But sometimes, there are good Samaritans on hand

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to help bring the thief to justice.

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Manchester's city cameras show the moment an Italian woman,

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who's made the city her new home, is violently attacked, mugged

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and hurled to the ground.

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The attacker's made sure that his defenceless victim can't fight back.

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But he hasn't reckoned on these two burly witnesses

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and what happens next.

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It was amazing.

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They ran after him in a very dark road.

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The guy could have been armed.

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Like most major cities, Manchester has problems with violent crime,

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but that didn't deter 31-year-old Elena from leaving rural Italy

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to live here seven years ago as a student.

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Manchester is my second home.

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This city has given me everything I could possibly ask for.

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But one of Britain's largest cities is a far cry from the quiet life

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she left behind.

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I come from a little city in Italy called L'Aquila.

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Everyone knows each other, it's virtually crime free.

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It may be safe from crime, but Elena's hometown is prone

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to natural disasters, and in 2009, when she returned to L'Aquila

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to visit her family, a massive earthquake struck.

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I was in the house where I grew up.

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The symbol, for me, of safety.

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And the actual house crumbled on me.

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I didn't have the time to realise what was happening.

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It was just survival mode.

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You need to leave the house, you need to leave your belongings,

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you just need to survive.

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It wasn't just Elena's hometown that was left in ruins.

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Her family lost their house and savings too.

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When she came back to Manchester,

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she needed to finance her studies herself.

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I had to find a job to support myself and study and, you know,

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build around me from nothing.

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And I did. A new life in another country that doesn't shake.

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And a lot of good things have happened to Elena since then -

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starting a part-time job with an airline, getting married,

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and, three years ago, having a baby boy.

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But then, on the streets of her new hometown,

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she suddenly had to face the second terrifying ordeal of her life.

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It's a dark night in January

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and Elena is at a colleague's leaving do

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in the centre of Manchester.

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It was probably just after midnight that I decided to leave

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because it was getting late.

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Elena begins the short walk towards the bus stop.

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On the way, she pulls out her purse to find the fare

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and her phone to text her husband that she's on her way home.

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At that point, some random guy approached me, offering me a nut.

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She's very wary of this strange man.

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I thought, "Leave me alone!"

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And carried on, just minding my own business.

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Elena crosses the road and is now just yards from her bus stop,

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when the man suddenly pounces.

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The city's CCTV cameras show what happens next.

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Elena is mugged and violently hurled down onto the pavement.

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I was attacked by a man who would steal all my things

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and threw me on the floor.

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The man makes off with Elena's purse and mobile phone,

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leaving her dazed on the pavement.

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It was just completely state of shock.

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While one passer-by rushes to help Elena,

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two doormen from a nearby pub set off after the robber.

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In half a second, the bouncers made the call to run after the guy.

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It was amazing.

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The mugger proves no match for the two burly bouncers.

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They soon catch up with him,

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dragging him back to face his victim at the scene of the crime.

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When the bouncers came back with the offender,

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they handed me my stuff back.

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It highlighted that there are people out there that are...

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incredible and...

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Sorry.

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The bouncers hold the man until the police arrived to arrest him.

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After taking her statement, the officers escort Elena home.

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My husband came to open the door

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and I just broke down in tears.

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Even though she's now safely back home, in the days that followed,

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Elena struggles to cope with the emotional trauma of her ordeal.

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I didn't realise straightaway how much of an impact

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that this whole thing had on me.

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When I walk in the street and suddenly I can feel

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my heartbeat racing and racing and racing,

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and then I start nervously to look around myself,

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like something is going to happen now.

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Ten weeks after the assault,

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Elena decides to try to conquer her fear by attending the hearing at

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Manchester Crown Court.

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I wanted to look the guy that attacked me in the eyes.

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I had to do that for myself.

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It's painful, but I think that it's really, really important

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that the victim takes active part in the whole process.

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Elena had bravely faced her fears and she saw justice served.

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The man pleaded guilty to robbery and was sent to prison

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for 18 months.

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He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

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Elena has now put her ordeal behind her

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and she can even bring herself to watch the CCTV recording

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of the attack.

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Look at that. This is the actual offender

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and that's when we have this kind of fight between us.

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It isn't real.

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Elena may have been a victim of crime on its streets,

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but she has no regrets making Manchester her second home.

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This is not what Manchester is.

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The people here are so lovely and so friendly

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and I always felt at home in Manchester.

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It's my city. I love it to bits.

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Nearly two million people are victims of street crime every year.

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So, what can we do to increase our chances of not falling prey

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to the bag snatchers, the muggers and the pickpockets?

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If it's dark, or perhaps you're in a vulnerable area and you don't quite

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feel so safe on your own, and you haven't got anybody else

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to walk with, perhaps tailgate with another group of people

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so that there are some people around you,

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because a wannabe thief would be put off by this.

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The other thing to do is to make sure that you're sticking to

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well-lit areas and walk closer to the road at night.

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Because, obviously, you want a wide berth of alleyways or dark corners.

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Put your shoulders back, look confident,

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look as if you know where you're going to,

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and I think you're less likely to be targeted by an offender.

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We all like to listen to music and wear headphones,

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but just have a think about how that leaves you.

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People can sneak up behind you,

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you don't know what's going on, headphones can be distracting.

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Having your phone out on show can immediately make you a target,

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so think about the circumstances you need to use your phone.

0:19:540:19:57

Is it a must?

0:19:570:19:59

Can it wait till later on?

0:19:590:20:01

And if so, then tuck the phone away somewhere safely

0:20:010:20:03

and obviously reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

0:20:030:20:06

If you think there's something odd about these two women, you're right.

0:20:150:20:19

That's because it's actually two men in drag.

0:20:190:20:22

This isn't a joke, though.

0:20:220:20:23

It's more like a scene from a horror film

0:20:230:20:25

because these are armed robbers.

0:20:250:20:27

But the cross-dressing criminals are so unconvincing,

0:20:290:20:33

other customers turn and stare, and soon realise

0:20:330:20:35

they need to scarper fast when the men whip out weapons

0:20:350:20:39

and demand money from the postmaster.

0:20:390:20:41

After stuffing their handbags with cash, the robbers make a run for it,

0:20:430:20:47

but outside, they get a dressing-down

0:20:470:20:49

from members of the public who bravely tackle them.

0:20:490:20:52

The robbers abandon the cash and are later caught by the police.

0:20:530:20:57

It turns out that the men posing as mother and daughter are actually

0:20:590:21:03

father and son.

0:21:030:21:04

Dad's in the wheelchair, with an imitation shotgun

0:21:050:21:07

hidden under his blanket.

0:21:070:21:09

For this robbery and other offences,

0:21:110:21:13

the man is sentenced to 18 years in prison.

0:21:130:21:16

His son gets eight years in a young offenders' institution.

0:21:160:21:21

They must be sitting in their cells

0:21:210:21:22

regretting the day they dressed in drag.

0:21:220:21:25

It really was a harebrained scheme because it was DNA taken from

0:21:250:21:29

their wigs that helped convict them.

0:21:290:21:31

It's late at night in a popular Scottish tourist centre,

0:21:390:21:42

when youths break in and make off with five go-karts.

0:21:420:21:46

But the centre's director sets out on the track

0:21:460:21:49

of getting his go-karts back.

0:21:490:21:51

Having CCTV gives us a good chance of solving the mystery.

0:21:510:21:55

Almond Valley Heritage Centre is based in Livingston,

0:22:050:22:08

one of Scotland's newest towns.

0:22:080:22:11

It was set up by the community to preserve links to the past.

0:22:110:22:15

They saved the local mill from demolition and built a centre to

0:22:150:22:18

commemorate the early oil industry

0:22:180:22:20

that originally made the area famous.

0:22:200:22:22

Robin has been the director here since 1990.

0:22:240:22:28

I'm passionate about heritage and industrial heritage particularly,

0:22:280:22:31

so I was privileged to be the first member of staff taken on here.

0:22:310:22:35

And I'm still here.

0:22:350:22:36

Over the years, Robin has watched the centre grow into one

0:22:400:22:43

of the area's most popular tourist attractions.

0:22:430:22:46

We're here to promote understanding of the local heritage,

0:22:470:22:51

but not in a way that's obvious and like being at school.

0:22:510:22:54

People are here to have fun and enjoy themselves as family groups.

0:22:540:22:59

And one of the things families most enjoy is the pedal-powered go-karts.

0:22:590:23:04

It's one area where people are quite willing to queue up for a wee while

0:23:040:23:07

to actually get their turn.

0:23:070:23:09

And certainly with the older children,

0:23:090:23:12

it's one of the most favoured areas of the whole site.

0:23:120:23:16

But as Robin will soon find out,

0:23:160:23:17

his go-karts aren't just popular with law-abiding locals.

0:23:170:23:21

It's 2am on a summer Sunday morning.

0:23:280:23:31

The centre's long since closed for the night.

0:23:310:23:34

But suddenly, it has some unexpected visitors.

0:23:340:23:37

Two figures can be seen on CCTV.

0:23:380:23:41

The first of them pedalling one of the centre's go-karts.

0:23:410:23:44

Then another appears, then even more.

0:23:460:23:48

And these intruders are well off the go-karts' beaten track.

0:23:500:23:54

This concourse leads to the centre's exit.

0:23:540:23:56

The gang is raiding the charity's prime attraction.

0:23:580:24:01

One, two, three,

0:24:010:24:04

four, five go-karts in total.

0:24:040:24:06

A few hours later, Robin comes in to open up the centre

0:24:090:24:13

and notices signs of disturbance around the go-kart compound.

0:24:130:24:17

Finding a litter bin in an odd position,

0:24:170:24:19

where perhaps it had been used as a step stool or a ladder,

0:24:190:24:22

immediately struck me as being odd.

0:24:220:24:25

Then Robin looks into the enclosure and sees the go-karts have gone.

0:24:250:24:29

There's big spaces there.

0:24:300:24:32

There's obviously a lot of them missing.

0:24:320:24:33

In total, the five go-karts are worth £1,500.

0:24:340:24:39

Stealing them would have been far from easy.

0:24:390:24:41

The thieves were clearly determined and well-organised.

0:24:410:24:45

The compound is right in the middle of our site,

0:24:450:24:47

so people would have to climb over fences and go quite a long way

0:24:470:24:50

before they actually approach the compound.

0:24:500:24:53

And the compound itself is surrounded by a high fence.

0:24:530:24:57

As the gate was locked, the thieves must have manhandled

0:24:570:25:00

the heavy go-karts over the top.

0:25:000:25:02

These are big, heavy, steel frame things.

0:25:020:25:05

It must have taken quite a lot of coordination

0:25:050:25:07

and quite a lot of effort.

0:25:070:25:09

Robin is even more shocked when he checks the CCTV footage and realises

0:25:090:25:13

the young age of his unwelcome late-night visitors.

0:25:130:25:17

They're obviously not fully grown adults.

0:25:170:25:21

There's some very sort of slender figures there.

0:25:210:25:24

And we thought that one looked like a girl.

0:25:240:25:27

But certainly these aren't burly burglars.

0:25:270:25:30

This was two o'clock in the morning, or there afterwards.

0:25:310:25:34

These kids are out on the rampage.

0:25:340:25:37

Where do they live?

0:25:370:25:38

What were their parents doing?

0:25:380:25:40

Why weren't they missed?

0:25:400:25:42

The youths might not be missed,

0:25:430:25:45

but the centre is definitely missing its £300 go-karts.

0:25:450:25:48

We would need to replace those go-karts.

0:25:490:25:52

But in the meantime, not having those go-karts there,

0:25:520:25:55

which would be a bad thing for our visitors.

0:25:550:25:58

The day after the theft, Robin puts the CCTV video online,

0:25:580:26:03

asking for help tracking down the thieves and the go-karts.

0:26:030:26:08

Having that CCTV gives us a good chance of good folks

0:26:080:26:12

getting back to us and solving the mystery.

0:26:120:26:15

The response from the Livingston community is astonishing.

0:26:150:26:19

People were sharing these things with their friends and asking their

0:26:190:26:22

friends whether they knew anything about it, and...

0:26:220:26:26

it was just really outstanding.

0:26:260:26:28

Within 24 hours, the video is viewed over 100,000 times.

0:26:280:26:33

Locals launch an intensive search all over Livingston

0:26:330:26:36

and it rapidly pays dividends.

0:26:360:26:40

It seems these go-karts sort of took a devious route through bits of

0:26:400:26:43

Livingston and many were found in different places,

0:26:430:26:46

so they all had their little stories to tell.

0:26:460:26:49

Somebody saw go-karts being pushed past the hospital

0:26:490:26:52

very early in the morning.

0:26:520:26:54

One of the members of staff here saw a go-kart suspiciously

0:26:540:26:57

sitting out of a bush on the way to work.

0:26:570:27:01

That was the first one that we actually went out to recover.

0:27:010:27:04

I think many of the others were recovered the next morning

0:27:040:27:06

when there were folks out walking dogs in parks.

0:27:060:27:10

It looks like Robin's successful internet campaign has encouraged the

0:27:100:27:13

youths to get rid of their stolen goods in an attempt

0:27:130:27:16

to avoid detection.

0:27:160:27:18

But they don't.

0:27:180:27:19

Soon, the police track down the offenders.

0:27:210:27:23

They looked at the social media and all the comments

0:27:250:27:27

and I think they had got a good idea who had been behind it,

0:27:270:27:32

and it was very satisfying to know that people had actually been held

0:27:320:27:35

to account for what had happened.

0:27:350:27:37

For the theft of the go-karts,

0:27:420:27:43

eight young people were charged and referred for supervision.

0:27:430:27:47

Robin now secures the go-karts by chaining them together overnight.

0:27:490:27:53

And the local support he received has reassured him

0:27:530:27:56

that the Heritage Centre is also secure in the town's affections.

0:27:560:28:01

Really heart-warmed by the response that we got back from everybody.

0:28:010:28:06

A real triumph of people power, I think.

0:28:060:28:09

People are good people and people want to help

0:28:090:28:12

in this sort of situation.

0:28:120:28:13

We're very grateful for that.

0:28:130:28:15

That's all for today.

0:28:220:28:23

Thousands of criminals are captured on camera every year.

0:28:230:28:27

Make sure you join us next time to see more villains

0:28:270:28:29

who have been caught red-handed.

0:28:290:28:31

A brave woman who survived one of Italy's biggest earthquakes finds herself in even more danger on the streets of Manchester. And pedal-powered go-karts are stolen from a popular tourist centre; can people power help get them back?


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