Episode 5 Caught Red Handed


Episode 5

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A car driver deliberately slams on his brakes so the van behind rams into him.


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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.

-Going 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

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to make sure 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 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,

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a burglar who doesn't care whose flat he's breaking into.

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My drawers were wide-open, it just felt really creepy.

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I almost felt like there was a presence in there.

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But the villain made a serious mistake

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because Andrea is a criminologist

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and knows a thing or two about catching thieves.

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Also today, just after Christmas,

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a callous intruder raids a pub and plunders its storeroom

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without a thought for anyone else.

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Young bar manager Liam is left feeling he's the guilty one.

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It was just horrific, to be fair.

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I just can't believe I didn't hear anything at all.

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And a sports car driver slams on his brakes suddenly

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and for no reason at all.

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So, the innocent woman in the van behind can't avoid hitting him.

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It's exactly what the sports car driver wanted

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because this is no accident, this is crash for cash.

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To be a lone female in a tunnel and being shouted at

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is not a nice situation to be in.

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Look down any street and you will see

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there are an increasing number of homes with CCTV.

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But there are also a lot of hidden cameras around that you can't see.

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The London Borough of Croydon.

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Home to criminology lecturer Andrea.

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She lives in a block of flats with her teenage son

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who goes to a nearby college.

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I live in a nice neighbourhood.

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You do kind of look out for each other.

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If anything does happen, we all come out in support.

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And when, one day, Andrea's neighbours complained about

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someone smoking in the communal hallway,

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their landlord sent round some men

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to secretly install a camera disguised as a smoke alarm

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to help him catch the culprit.

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There were two guys out there and they were doing

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a little bit too much work for it to be a smoke alarm.

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So, I said, "Is that a smoke alarm?"

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And they said, "Yes, it's a smoke alarm, definitely a smoke alarm."

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I was like, "No, it's not, it's a camera.

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They said, "No, no, it's definitely a smoke alarm."

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When we came in, we'd dance in front of it and smile and wave at it

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because we thought it was quite entertaining.

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Not much gets past Andrea.

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That's a criminologist for you.

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She originally decided to study the world of crime

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after landing a job in a solicitor's office.

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I ended up going to my local college, where I met this teacher

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who told me about criminology and encouraged me to go to university.

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I thought, "OK, well, you know,

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"I'm pretty smart, let me go and do it."

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So, I ended up doing criminology

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and I was inspired by one of my lecturers to become a teacher.

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But little did Andrea know,

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she'd soon have her very own crime case to study.

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It's 10am on a week day,

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and while Andrea is out teaching about crime at college,

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there's a burglar trying to break into her home.

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Even though Andrea's door is reinforced, he doesn't give up.

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20 minutes later, he's in, and along with an accomplice,

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looting her possessions.

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At college, Andrea is in the middle of teaching

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and normally, mobile phones are banned in class.

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I was quite shocked when my own phone started ringing.

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I made a bit of a joke at first and I said,

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"That's one of you lot's phone, I'm not going to tell you again."

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And we all chuckled about it.

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But the laughing stopped when Andrea finds it's her son calling

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to tell her they've been burgled.

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I just felt my legs buckle, I felt as if...

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I just didn't get it.

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It was almost as if somebody had taken my breath away

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and I just didn't know what else to do.

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Andrea races to her house, dreading what she will find.

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I just don't remember the car journey home.

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I was still quite dazed,

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so I was quite glad that my neighbour was there.

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She records the scene of devastation on her phone.

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I just thought, "Well, what's gone on here?"

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Because they took the whole door off, including the frame.

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It was an awful feeling.

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This is my home, this is where I live and I love it here.

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And somebody has come in and they've taken that feeling of warmth,

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my community feeling away from me,

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because I felt this was no longer my home.

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A large television is missing from the lounge, and that's not all.

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A laptop that my previous employer had given me

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had gone and it had lots of memories on it.

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As Andrea walks into her bedroom, her heart sinks.

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I just felt really, really sick

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because I noticed my drawers were wide open.

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Not all of my drawers, mainly my underwear drawer.

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My bed was just all dishevelled because they'd taken my quilt cover.

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It just felt really creepy.

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I almost felt like there was a presence in there.

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Andrea's jewellery box, containing a ring her mother gave her, has gone.

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Every time I would look at that ring,

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it would just remind me of my mum.

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And that broke my heart.

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It was just so personal to me.

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If they had asked me, they could have had the rest,

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just not that one.

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But Andrea soon switches back into criminologist mode

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and remembers the hidden camera in the hallway.

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I said to the police, "Oh, my gosh, that's a camera."

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He said, "It's a fire alarm."

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"No, no, it's a camera, it's actually a camera.

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"Look." He was like, "Well, where's the lens?"

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I said, "Look, it's right there," and I showed him.

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He said, "OK, who's got the footage?"

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I said, "My landlord's got the footage.

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"I'm going to phone them."

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Andrea's vigilance proves to be a breakthrough.

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The police get hold of the footage and can't believe their eyes.

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The burglar is caught in the act and so is his accomplice.

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The villain wears gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints.

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The camera shows how he checks no-one's around

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that can hear him break in.

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He uses a crowbar to try to lever open Andrea's sturdy front door.

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DCI Mick Neville from the Met's forensic image team

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realises he's dealing with an experienced thief.

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What was unusual about this case

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was the determination of the burglar to get in.

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Normally, the burglar will try and crowbar the door,

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and if that fails, may move on, but for whatever reason,

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he really did attack this door

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and took some substantial amount of time to access the premises.

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This is no casual criminal.

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He takes a full 20 minutes to rip off the door frame, piece by piece.

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It's rare for a burglar to go to such lengths.

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He forces the door open and heads straight for Andrea's belongings.

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The thief had gone through all the drawers in the victim's bedroom.

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I think that's a real violation of privacy

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and it really does make people frightened.

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And this is why burglary is such a wicked crime.

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The thief uses Andrea's duvet to carry off his ill-gotten gains.

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The footage is sent to a special police video unit in Croydon

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where it is analysed and then dispatched to other boroughs.

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At the Metropolitan Police,

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we're very good at dealing with CCTV images,

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and particularly passing them across police borders.

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Because you can have the best CCTV image in the world,

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but unless the right officer, or member of the public,

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looks at it and makes an identification, it's little use.

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All over London, police officers examine the footage

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to see if they can identify the felon.

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At home, Andrea is struggling to come to terms with the intrusion.

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She fears she was deliberately targeted by the burglars.

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It was just really difficult for me to grasp the fact that

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I didn't understand why they'd gone into my room.

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I guess I thought it was personal at that point.

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It was the fear of the unknown.

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But soon, Andrea will be able to rest easy.

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There's been a further breakthrough in her case.

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An officer in Lambeth has identified the crook

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and the police pounce.

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By the very next morning, they had a warrant,

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they raided his home address,

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he was quickly arrested and taken to Croydon Police Station.

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It's a massive relief for Andrea.

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Finding out it was somebody completely random

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made me feel so much better about it.

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I realised that it wasn't personal.

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It was a burglary, and it happens to many people.

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But I had to come to that conclusion by myself.

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It didn't matter what my friends were telling me.

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I had to feel it for myself.

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In court, the man pleaded guilty to burglary

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and admitted to 18 other offences.

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His sentence, four years in prison.

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His accomplice pleaded guilty to trespass and theft

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and received a youth rehabilitation order.

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Andrea, working out that the smoke alarm was nothing of the sort,

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and telling the police it was a hidden camera,

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was vital in cracking the case.

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Without that CCTV evidence,

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it's very unlikely that the suspect would have been ever arrested.

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But just that chance of the camera there

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really did enable us to catch a quite prolific burglar.

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With the thief safely behind bars,

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Andrea's been able to move on with her life.

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Oh, my God. Oh, my gosh!

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And regard that traumatic time as a valuable learning opportunity.

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It gave me an insight into the experience of the victims of crime.

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And I guess, in a sense, it enabled me to teach that particular subject

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better to my students.

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A lot of people's favourite meal is a big Sunday roast.

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Looks like this fella agrees.

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But if this rather juddery CCTV footage is anything to go by,

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his eyes are a little bit bigger than his belly.

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This guy has taken himself down to the supermarket

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to get the Sunday joint.

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But as we're about to see, he isn't too keen on paying for it.

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It also looks like the security camera is a bit faulty.

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Either that, or this chap is an expert break dancer.

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Or maybe he's about to do a belly dance for the cameras,

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because this beef thief chooses the biggest portion in the store...

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..shoves it up his jumper...

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..and skedaddles out of the joint, or with the joint.

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And before the security staff can catch him.

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But the police are hot on the trail of this man,

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who decided to risk it for some brisket.

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They've got a bone to pick with him.

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We'd all feel terrible if we drove into the back of another motorist,

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and our natural reaction would be to take the blame.

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But what if it was no accident in the first place,

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but a case of crash for cash?

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The City Of London Police Headquarters

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is in the centre of the capital.

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Based here is Detective Constable Kate Sibley.

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Kate's investigated fraud for over two decades.

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She works in a department specially set up to deal with insurance scams.

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Insurance fraud is on the increase.

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That makes a big difference in the insurance world

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and at the end of the day, it adds money onto policies.

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The insurance industry has estimated that premiums in general

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go up by at least £50 a year because of fraudsters.

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We are all victims of this crime.

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That's £50 out of your personal pocket

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and that's per insurance policy.

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And we all hold a number of insurance policies at home.

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Bogus claims can yield millions of pounds.

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So, it's no surprise organised criminal gangs are in on the act.

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And one type of scam known as crash for cash

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can be especially profitable.

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Crash for cash is basically an induced accident.

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So, you're driving along quite happily as a member of the public,

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suddenly someone in front of you slams on their brakes

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for no reason whatsoever.

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You then hit the rear end of that vehicle.

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Claims are then made by the vehicle in front, for personal injury,

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which amounts to quite a lot.

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Bogus passengers suddenly appear, putting in claims.

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You have credit hire, ie hire of another vehicle.

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Storage for that damaged vehicle.

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And the list goes on and on and on.

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Kate's recently dealt with a case that even she finds shocking.

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This traffic camera footage is from an underpass

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in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

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At first, everything seems normal.

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There was traffic ahead, it's moving quite well, it's not braking,

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it's not stopping.

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But Kate points out a black Porsche sports car,

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whose driver is up to no good.

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Suddenly, he slams his brakes on, for no reason.

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And that van then hits the rear end.

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Ouch.

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The driver of the white van is a female council worker,

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and an ideal victim for the fraudster in the flashy car.

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Anybody committing this sort of crime

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will tend to go for company vehicles,

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because they know they are insured

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and they will be covered by insurance.

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The sports car and van ease onto a cycle path to allow traffic

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to pass more safely.

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Then the man gets out and aggressively blames

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the totally innocent van driver for the collision.

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The victim kept get shouted at by the driver,

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"Didn't you see the brake lights? Didn't you see the brake lights?"

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And she felt quite intimidated by him

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because he was putting the entire blame on her

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when it wasn't her fault.

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And I think she believed it wasn't her fault,

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she knew it wasn't her fault.

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But to be a lone female in a tunnel

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being shouted at by a Porsche driver

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is not a nice situation to be in.

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Surprisingly, the sports car isn't as badly damaged as the woman's van,

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which has a cracked radiator.

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So, the driver sets about wrecking his own car some more.

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Saying he wants to get away from the bend in the road,

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he careers into the tunnel wall, scraping it along the concrete.

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Unbelievable.

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The driver of the Porsche stopped and she said to him,

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"What are you doing?"

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And he said, "You've knackered my steering.

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"My steering is knackered

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"because of when you hit me in the rear end of the vehicle."

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The crook in the car takes the van driver's details

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and then makes a rapid exit,

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miraculously overcoming his knackered steering.

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But little does he realise,

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the entire incident has been caught on camera.

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This is why it is so important, these cameras.

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It could be seen this car was driveable,

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he was driving it perfectly fine out of the tunnel.

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Soon after he gets home,

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the sports car scammer starts a sizeable insurance claim.

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And sends the van driver's insurers an engineer's report

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and photos of his car.

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It now looks like it's been hit by a ten-ton truck,

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and surprise, surprise, it's a write-off.

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That does not compare to that.

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That, to me, looks like somebody's taken a sledgehammer

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to the rear end of the car after the accident and caused severe damage,

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because there is no way

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that was caused from the accident in that tunnel.

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The fraudster also sent a £22,000 bill

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for hiring a replacement vehicle,

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even though his doctored report states he can't drive

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because he's so badly injured.

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But thanks to Kate and her camera evidence,

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the swindler in the sports car

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is about to get a crash course in justice.

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The suspect was summoned to court and he decided to plead not guilty.

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So, he was sent to the Old Bailey for trial.

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But on day one of the trial, he decided to plead guilty

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to the charges put before him.

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And at a later hearing,

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he was ordered to pay the insurance company £34,000 in compensation

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and more than £7,500 prosecution costs.

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The fraudster was sentenced to six months in jail,

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suspended for two years,

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and 140 hours of unpaid work in the community.

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To us, it was a good result.

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Everything was stacked against him.

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He didn't really have a leg to stand on.

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His sneaky scam to get banged in the back

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ended up with him being banged...

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..to rights.

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Any motorist could be a victim of crash for cash,

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so what should someone do if they're involved in an accident which, well,

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doesn't seem very accidental?

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Anybody involved in a crash is going to be traumatised or upset.

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If somebody looks really calm,

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you have to ask yourself, "Why is that?"

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Crash for cash investigations have shown that it's not just about

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the car in front jamming on the brakes,

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there are circumstances and cases

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where a vehicle has rammed the victim from behind,

0:18:420:18:46

or alternatively, they've been sideswiped

0:18:460:18:48

as they've gone round a roundabout.

0:18:480:18:50

Usually with expensive cars,

0:18:500:18:52

people are quite protective of their asset.

0:18:520:18:54

If they are driving in an unusual manner,

0:18:540:18:56

perhaps swerving in front of you or braking harshly,

0:18:560:18:59

then they're not really doing a good job of that,

0:18:590:19:01

so alarm bells might start to ring.

0:19:010:19:03

If you do feel that you're a victim of crash for cash,

0:19:030:19:07

then it's important you call the police as soon as possible.

0:19:070:19:10

But there are other, a few things you can do

0:19:100:19:12

while waiting for police to attend,

0:19:120:19:14

and that could just be recording the mannerisms of the person involved,

0:19:140:19:18

or it could be recording any witness details

0:19:180:19:21

if they can't wait for police to attend.

0:19:210:19:23

If it's a tiny bump

0:19:230:19:25

and then somebody suddenly starts falling about

0:19:250:19:27

as if they're desperately, badly injured,

0:19:270:19:30

you need to wonder what's going on.

0:19:300:19:31

If they look like they're acting, they probably are.

0:19:310:19:34

The Horse & Jockey pub in Pontypool

0:19:440:19:46

has served thirsty locals for hundreds of years.

0:19:460:19:49

Its latest owner is experienced landlord Leighton,

0:19:510:19:54

who also has another pub close by.

0:19:540:19:57

I've been in the pub trade all my life.

0:19:570:19:59

A second pub was a challenge I wanted to take on,

0:19:590:20:02

and when it was The Horse & Jockey that came up,

0:20:020:20:04

it was certainly something I wanted to look into.

0:20:040:20:07

It's been a personal favourite of mine since I was old enough

0:20:070:20:10

to frequent the premises.

0:20:100:20:11

I'm led to believe it's a 15th-century building.

0:20:110:20:15

We've got a resident ghost, apparently.

0:20:150:20:17

Leighton hired a barman, Liam, who lives above the pub.

0:20:170:20:20

Liam isn't scared of ghosts,

0:20:200:20:22

and when Leighton asked him to become manager

0:20:220:20:24

of The Horse & Jockey, he jumped at the chance.

0:20:240:20:27

We sat down and we had a chat and he said,

0:20:270:20:29

"Would you like to go up to manager?"

0:20:290:20:31

So, I said, "Yeah, I'll have a go."

0:20:310:20:34

He's given me a massive opportunity

0:20:340:20:36

and massive responsibility of the pub.

0:20:360:20:39

It's nice to live upstairs,

0:20:390:20:41

it's just walk down the steps and you're in work.

0:20:410:20:44

But Liam's managerial career almost fell at the first fence.

0:20:440:20:48

It all starts with a somewhat weary Liam waking up at around 10am

0:20:530:20:57

on New Year's Day after a big pub party the previous night.

0:20:570:21:01

My girlfriend was upstairs with me, so she said,

0:21:020:21:05

"Can you go get my handbag?"

0:21:050:21:07

Liam goes downstairs to fetch the handbag she left next to the till,

0:21:080:21:12

but it isn't there.

0:21:120:21:14

I was like, "Your handbag's not behind the bar.

0:21:140:21:17

"It's nowhere to be seen."

0:21:170:21:18

She was like, "I left it there last night."

0:21:180:21:20

They both go downstairs to look.

0:21:200:21:22

She came round and said, "Your fire exit's open."

0:21:220:21:25

And my stomach sank a little bit.

0:21:250:21:27

I was like, "It shouldn't be."

0:21:270:21:30

Before going to bed,

0:21:300:21:31

Liam had checked the fire exit and shut all the windows.

0:21:310:21:35

But now, two of the back windows are open.

0:21:350:21:38

I just felt physically sick.

0:21:380:21:40

Of all days, New Year's Day, we've just got broken into.

0:21:400:21:43

It was just going through my head,

0:21:430:21:45

thinking, "What do I do, what do I do?"

0:21:450:21:47

He checks the pub's CCTV recording.

0:21:480:21:51

As I was going through it, it went to daylight, more or less.

0:21:520:21:57

So, I was like, "Surely no-one could come in here in the daylight?"

0:21:570:22:00

Next thing I see, the guy's out the back.

0:22:000:22:03

Liam phones his boss to break the news.

0:22:030:22:06

The first thing was to make sure Liam was OK

0:22:070:22:10

because it's not a good experience to go through.

0:22:100:22:12

Then it was, "Jump in the car and just get up here."

0:22:120:22:15

Everything's racing through your mind, thinking what's been stolen

0:22:150:22:18

and what's been damaged.

0:22:180:22:20

When Leighton arrives,

0:22:200:22:21

Liam tells him the pub's storage units have been ransacked.

0:22:210:22:26

A considerable amount of food stock, spirits, wines, ciders had gone.

0:22:260:22:30

Liam's bedroom window looks over the storage units.

0:22:300:22:34

Knowing he slept through the burglary has hit him hard.

0:22:340:22:38

I just can't believe I didn't hear anything at all.

0:22:380:22:41

I was like, "I've just taken this role on,"

0:22:410:22:44

I think the responsibility is too much for myself, so, to be honest,

0:22:440:22:48

I was just going to call it all a day.

0:22:480:22:50

It hurt me that badly, it was just horrific, to be fair.

0:22:500:22:54

It's a serious blow so early in Liam's pub management career.

0:22:550:22:59

His girlfriend is also shellshocked.

0:22:590:23:02

Her expensive handbag

0:23:020:23:03

had been one of her favourite presents on Christmas Day.

0:23:030:23:07

She was so upset.

0:23:070:23:09

She had £200 worth of make-up in there.

0:23:090:23:12

And for a Christmas present to be gone

0:23:120:23:14

five days after you've had it ain't nice.

0:23:140:23:16

Leighton knows the burglary has knocked Liam's confidence

0:23:160:23:20

but is convinced they can find the intruder.

0:23:200:23:22

After alerting the police,

0:23:220:23:24

he calls an IT expert friend, James, and asks his advice.

0:23:240:23:29

It was a shock because I'd been there the night before

0:23:290:23:32

for New Year's Eve and seen what a great success it was.

0:23:320:23:37

James rushes round to the pub and closely examines the footage.

0:23:370:23:41

I saw the perpetrator drive in initially

0:23:410:23:44

with a dark-coloured vehicle.

0:23:440:23:46

The burglar enters the car park at 7:50am.

0:23:460:23:50

The CCTV cameras only record when they sense motion

0:23:510:23:55

and they pick the man up a few moments later in the back yard.

0:23:550:23:59

He's arrived with the largest pair of bolt crops

0:23:590:24:02

I've seen in a long time.

0:24:020:24:04

The intruder seems to know what he's doing.

0:24:040:24:07

He was very careful not to make a noise.

0:24:070:24:10

The way he used his head to stable the cold storage door.

0:24:100:24:15

But the thief makes a crucial error.

0:24:150:24:18

He doesn't notice the security cameras overlooking the yard.

0:24:180:24:21

Unaware his every move is being filmed,

0:24:230:24:26

he starts to steal selectively from the storage unit.

0:24:260:24:30

He clearly knew what he was looking for.

0:24:300:24:32

He bypassed the chicken nuggets

0:24:320:24:33

in order to go for the quite exotic foods.

0:24:330:24:36

The thief then raids the second storage unit,

0:24:360:24:39

taking more valuable stock.

0:24:390:24:41

The cost price to us, around £5,000 worth of food alone.

0:24:410:24:44

It was a massive loss to us,

0:24:440:24:46

as a new business trying to get our name out there.

0:24:460:24:49

We didn't want people to go away and say,

0:24:490:24:51

"I just went to The Horse & Jockey and they don't have any stock."

0:24:510:24:54

The burglar then vanishes from sight.

0:24:540:24:57

But minutes later, reappears inside the pub.

0:24:590:25:02

He's got in through one of those small windows.

0:25:020:25:05

Immediately, he went straight for the bar.

0:25:050:25:07

Recognising the bar had had a big night, good night before perhaps,

0:25:070:25:11

quite naively believing

0:25:110:25:12

that anybody would keep any money in the till area.

0:25:120:25:15

The intruder spots Liam's girlfriend's handbag.

0:25:150:25:18

As well as expensive make-up and cash, it contains her car keys.

0:25:180:25:23

The burglar goes back to his own vehicle

0:25:250:25:28

and drives up to the cars left overnight

0:25:280:25:30

to see which one opens with the stolen keys.

0:25:300:25:32

Once he identifies the car, he looks inside.

0:25:340:25:37

But there's nothing to steal, so he heads off with his ill-gotten gains.

0:25:370:25:41

James and Leighton devise a plan to bring him to justice.

0:25:430:25:47

Gwent Police have got quite an active social media programme

0:25:470:25:51

they call "caught and in court".

0:25:510:25:53

And that gave me the idea that we should take advantage

0:25:530:25:56

of social media to try and find him.

0:25:560:25:59

James thinks he'll have more chance of success if snapshots of the thief

0:25:590:26:02

are posted online straightaway.

0:26:020:26:05

This was New Year's Day at 5:15

0:26:050:26:08

and by 5:28, the first people had started to reply back.

0:26:080:26:13

Soon, there's an avalanche of messages identifying the burglar.

0:26:130:26:18

The online feedback was incredible.

0:26:180:26:20

By that night, we'd had more than 100 posts,

0:26:200:26:23

mainly giving the same name.

0:26:230:26:25

The phone didn't stop and it didn't stop the next day

0:26:250:26:28

and it was just going and going and going.

0:26:280:26:31

The police have the man's name,

0:26:310:26:33

but the burglar becomes aware of the online campaign

0:26:330:26:36

and goes into hiding.

0:26:360:26:38

It was only a matter of time before the police caught up with him.

0:26:380:26:41

The suspect is finally found a few weeks later

0:26:410:26:45

in a nearby town and arrested.

0:26:450:26:47

For Liam, still haunted by the burglary happening

0:26:470:26:50

while he's in charge, it's a big relief.

0:26:500:26:53

Really good feeling. It was always playing on your mind,

0:26:530:26:55

just in case he came back.

0:26:550:26:57

And now he's arrested, it's quite a weight lifted off the shoulders.

0:26:570:27:01

In court, the thief pleaded guilty to a number of crimes

0:27:050:27:08

including the burglary at The Horse & Jockey.

0:27:080:27:11

He was sentenced to seven months in prison.

0:27:110:27:14

The pub's locals were crucial in helping crack the case.

0:27:160:27:19

You can go around believing that you live in a nice place,

0:27:210:27:25

but it's not until something like this happens

0:27:250:27:28

that brings out the best in communities.

0:27:280:27:31

And there's more good news.

0:27:310:27:33

Despite his early setback,

0:27:330:27:34

Liam's decided to continue holding the reins at The Horse & Jockey.

0:27:340:27:38

I just had a sit down with my boss.

0:27:380:27:40

We just had a chat and I thought, "I do want it.

0:27:400:27:43

"I'll make sure everything is perfect

0:27:430:27:46

"and I promise you, it won't happen again."

0:27:460:27:48

That's it for today.

0:27:550:27:56

And that's it for a few more criminals

0:27:560:27:58

who've been caught red-handed.

0:27:580:28:00

A car driver deliberately slams on his brakes so the van behind rams into him, and a criminologist is burgled by a thief, but he soon discovers he has chosen the wrong victim.


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