Episode 9 Caught Red Handed


Episode 9

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A post office is raided by two knifemen, and the owner bravely takes them on so his colleagues can escape.


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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 to catch the bad guys.

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CCTV is gold dust.

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-Great evidence for the police.

-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 an 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 - suddenly, armed robbers leap over the counters

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of a shop in a shocking attack.

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The owner, Ali, puts his life on the line so his colleagues can escape.

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I knew I had to do something to divert his attention

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so the girls could run to safety.

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But his assistant, Pav, doesn't want to leave her boss behind.

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He was bleeding on the back of his head. I felt like I should help him.

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Also today - 80-year-old Mel is targeted by a predatory thief.

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Cameras at a motorway services show what Mel can't see -

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her every move is being stalked by a shadowy stranger.

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It's awful to think that somebody is actually following you,

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got you in their sights.

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This man in the cap preys on older people.

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But police are on his trail.

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The hunter's about to become the hunted.

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And Tracey is the manager of a women-only gym.

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No men obviously come into the club, unless something needs fixing.

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They're good for something.

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But late one night, a man does come in, and he's up to no good.

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I want to scream at the screen and say, "That's my stuff! Give it me back!"

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Long-term Newcastle resident Ali has run a shop

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with a Post Office in the West End of the city for seven years.

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I used to have a coach company before this.

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I've always got on well with the public

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and that's what I love about this job.

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You see all different kinds of people coming in.

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I'm doing something helpful and it's a really huge part of my life.

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Pav has been a member of Ali's team for four years.

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Ali, generally, he just likes to have a joke with all the customers.

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Never takes anything too seriously.

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Which is good. You need to have a laugh.

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But Ali and Pav are about to face a situation

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which is as serious as it gets.

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It's late morning in November.

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Ali's behind the shop counter

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and Pav is in the separate Post Office section of the store

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with a female colleague.

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The store's security cameras

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show how this man in a blue hoodie approaches the shop.

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He walks in and heads straight to Ali.

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This guy came in with a hood on

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and he came to my counter first

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and then to the Post Office counter.

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The man goes over to where Pav is serving another customer.

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He then leaves without doing any business,

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and makes a call on his phone.

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20 minutes later, he comes back with another man in a hoodie.

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The men enter the store and split up.

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And then, suddenly, this quiet morning takes a violent turn.

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One of the men launches himself across the counter to attack Ali.

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I couldn't believe my eyes.

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I thought it was just a disgruntled customer, you know.

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When he jumped over the counter and struggled with me,

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that's when I realised that it was a lot more serious

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and I had to sort of defend myself.

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Pav watches on - horrified.

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There were things flying all over.

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You know, he was really laying into him.

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I felt like I should help him, but at the same time,

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I thought if I go out there, help him, he could attack myself.

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Ali realises the man has a weapon.

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He held a knife to my throat.

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He shouted, "Give me the money! Give me the money!"

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But on the other side of the shop, there's more horror to come

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when the robber's accomplice jumps onto the Post Office counter.

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Pav and her colleague are terrified.

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He just shouted, "Give us your cash!"

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Seeing him holding a knife, you fear for your life.

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I thought, you know, he's going to jump over.

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If he jumps over, then what do I do?

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One of them was threatening the girls.

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I knew I had to do something to divert his attention

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so the girls could run to safety.

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That's why I struggled with my guy.

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Ali takes on the man with the knife and gets pushed to the floor.

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The robber reaches for the money in the till,

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but Ali keeps fighting and wrestles him away.

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As Ali hopes, the robber's accomplice is distracted

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by the struggle and Pav realises there could be a chance

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to escape into the back office.

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I could see the key on the ledge, where we keep it,

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and I just thought, I've just got to grab that key.

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If I don't and he jumps over, then it could get a lot worse.

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But Pav doesn't want to go for the key while the robber's watching her.

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Ali continues to fight.

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He couldn't get the better of me,

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so he called his friend over to give him a hand.

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Ali's plan has worked.

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When the other robber leaves the Post Office section,

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Pav gets the key and escapes with her colleague.

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But Ali is now outnumbered.

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I got the full brunt of both of them.

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And suddenly, Ali's situation becomes even more serious.

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Both men have knives and the second robber aims his knife at Ali's head.

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I was feeling sharp blows

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and the blood was trickling down the back of my neck.

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It was really horrible.

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Pav is absolutely horrified

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as she watches through the back office window.

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You feel really helpless. I got the phone, I dialled 999.

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But Ali's resistance has paid off.

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The robbers give up on the raid and flee from the store.

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I tried to stop one of them from jumping back over the counter,

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but I think I was too tired after that.

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The men run out of the shop and Ali chases after them.

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There was no plan, I just wanted to see where they'd gone to

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so I could let the police know where they were.

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Ali loses sight of the robbers, but thanks to his bravery,

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they've gone away empty-handed.

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When they finally left, it was a sense of relief.

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You know, they've gone, I can go out and see if Ali's all right.

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I was just hyper.

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He was bleeding on the back of his head and on his forehead.

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Obviously, he was shocked and a little bit upset.

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The knife was hitting me on the back of the head.

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Thank God that's one of the hardest parts for knives to pierce, as well.

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It was, er... And luckily, I got away with minor injuries.

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Within minutes, the police arrive and start gathering evidence.

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To the relief of PC Phil Thoburn, who's heading the investigation,

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several witnesses come forward.

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The first witness had simply seen

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two men running quickly away from the Post Office.

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The witness thought, "Well, this must be something".

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The witness says the men ran down a lane near Ali's store.

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Luckily, another resident near the bottom of the street

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directed police to a house

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where they saw two males going in through the back door.

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Police knock on the door, but no-one answers.

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So they force entry and find two men inside.

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Both males insist their innocence,

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claim that the police have woke them up.

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The officers search the house and find hidden clothes and trainers.

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This clothing becomes crucial to the investigation

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because it matches up

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with the clothing worn by the offenders caught on CCTV.

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The suspects are arrested and taken into custody.

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Both denied the offence.

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It's always the police's responsibility to prove identification.

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Phil re-examines the CCTV.

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We were fortunate that whilst this was a planned robbery,

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you'd have to say the offenders weren't good at it.

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They weren't good at it because you see as they come into the store

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that they offer up a clear facial shot.

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As they come in, facial shots.

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All great for identification from a police perspective.

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The images look identical to the men they've just arrested.

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And that's not all.

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The two counters the offenders had jumped upon were examined

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and from there, two footprints were recovered.

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These two footprints have been examined against the footwear

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recovered from the offenders and we established

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that the same size and model of footwear corresponded exactly.

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Faced with this damning evidence, both men admit to the crime.

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I was overwhelmed that they caught them the same day.

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I just couldn't believe it.

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In court, the 22-year-old who first attacked Ali

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was jailed for four years.

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The 19-year-old who threatened Pav before joining in the assault on Ali

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was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

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Despite the ordeal, life soon returned to normal for Ali and Pav.

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I wasn't going to let the two young lads scare us

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or put us off coming into work.

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All of the regular customers were lovely.

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They all came in to ask how we were doing and they were really concerned.

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So it was quite nice to know you're cared for.

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I was really, really happy that they didn't get away with anything

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and I was really proud of myself as well. I had that satisfied feeling.

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That was really nice.

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Fortunately, not all crime is serious crime,

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not while there are inept criminals like these two.

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They're trying to break in to these premises late at night.

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Strange choice. It's not a bank, nor a shop. It's an estate agents.

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But they're clearly keen to view this property.

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One of them casually leans against the door,

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trying to look innocent, before breaking the lower window.

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GLASS SMASHES

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Maybe they think the door needs a cat flap,

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but as they crawl through it, it's obvious these two are no cat

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burglars because they get in a right flap when the alarm goes off.

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And they run around like Tom and Jerry,

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before deciding to turn tail back through the flap.

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An estate agents isn't exactly a prime location for

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a burglary anyway.

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There's nothing to steal, just pens and property details.

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And they left behind a couple of important details themselves.

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They didn't cover their faces.

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The footage has been handed to the police

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who hope somebody can identify these two prize properties,

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so that they can be taken off the market.

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It's important to keep an eye on our debit and credit cards

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because some light-fingered criminals will do just about

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anything to get their dirty mitts on our plastic.

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The popular seaside resort of Scarborough is home

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to 80-year-old Mel and her husband of 57 years, John.

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They loved visiting the town so much,

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they decided to move here in 1998.

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It is lovely.

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I often don't draw the curtains.

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I wake up in the morning to sunshine mainly.

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And the sunsets we get are fabulous!

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But nice as Scarborough is, it can get chilly during the winter, so Mel

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and John occasionally go to Florida to soak up the sun,

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while splashing out on presents for their grandchildren.

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At that time of year, it's perfect. I love it.

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Mel sometimes has to go out to America ahead of John because

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of his work commitments.

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Even though she finds it difficult to walk,

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Mel doesn't let it stop her travelling alone.

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As soon as I get to the airport, there's a wheelchair.

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And everybody is so nice.

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But Mel's latest trip to America almost ends in heartbreak,

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when she becomes the target of a ruthless thief.

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It's just before Christmas and Mel's driving down to stay with her

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son near Gatwick, before her flight the next day.

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After a short stint behind the wheel, she feels she needs a break.

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Once you start wanting the loo, you want the loo.

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She pulls in to a service station on the M1 in Derbyshire.

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-There was a knock on the window.

-KNOCK ON THE WINDOW

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And there was this man and he made a sign with his hands that

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he wanted money and he wanted to eat.

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So I said, "I'm sorry, do you speak English?" "No, no, no."

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So I just got my purse and I emptied it.

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There was only about 40-odd pence.

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He didn't say thank you, which was naughty. And off he went.

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Mel gets out of the car and puts her purse in her jacket pocket.

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She doesn't realise it, but she's being watched.

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The service station's CCTV shows Mel making her way in to the services.

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On the other side of the entrance,

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the cameras show the man she gave money to has come in ahead of her.

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He's waiting with another man and a woman.

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I saw the man sitting on a bench and he looked at me and

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he didn't show any recognition at all and I thought, you know,

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it would have been polite.

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But Mel certainly does have the attention of the man in the flat cap.

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He follows her with his friends.

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As Mel browses round the shops, he stays close by.

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Distracted, she doesn't realise she's being stalked.

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She pauses at a book stand.

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The man's companion appears to put her hand towards Mel's pocket...

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..but quickly pulls it away again when

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a member of the public walks close by.

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Oblivious to what's happening, Mel strolls on,

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out of sight of the cameras.

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The man in the flat cap follows.

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Ten minutes later, when Mel gets back to her car, she gets a shock.

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I put my hand in my pocket and there was no purse.

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After searching the car, she thinks she must have dropped the purse

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and retraces her steps to try and find it.

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But no joy.

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So I've lost my driving licence and all of my cards and £400.

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She's now stranded and calls her husband,

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who drives down to meet her at the service station.

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My husband came and gave me some more money.

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And off I went.

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Mel continues to her son's house,

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where next morning a security man from the service station calls her.

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Having watched the CCTV, he suspects she's a victim of pickpocketing.

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I just couldn't believe it.

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You know, I just...

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It really must be awful, that that's your way of living,

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is taking money from people.

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I didn't feel kindly about him, whoever he was!

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It turns out there are other victims who don't feel too kindly

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about the man in the flat cap either.

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Detective Sergeant Kev Morrissey from Buxton Police Station in

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Derbyshire has been investigating a spate of crimes that bear

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similar hallmarks to Mel's theft.

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One of the saddest aspects of this investigation really,

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virtually every victim that we've dealt with,

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apart from the odd one or two, have been elderly, female and vulnerable.

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Kev is gathering CCTV evidence of the crimes which have been happening

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around supermarkets too and he's noticed there's one person

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who keeps popping up in the footage. The man in the flat cap.

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Here, he's seen standing next to an elderly couple.

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As they turn to leave, the couple are crowded and jostled.

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While she's distracted, the woman's purse vanishes from her handbag.

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They're just going about their daily business and they don't

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realise they've just been a victim of theft.

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Kev continues to build up CCTV evidence against the man.

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While some of the crimes are pickpocketing,

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others are more sophisticated,

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as this footage from another shop shows.

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This time, he's not got his hat on.

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His target is this customer paying at the checkout.

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He goes and stands behind her.

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The victim's now putting her card in to the PIN card machine and

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she's now putting her PIN number in.

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And he's in a perfect position to spy the woman's PIN number.

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She's now about to push her trolley over,

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there's the principle offender that has been stood there all the time.

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The man then follows her to the car park and steals her handbag

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while she's putting her shopping in to her car.

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Later, he uses the PIN number to take £500 from her bank account.

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It's horrendous, horrible.

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Kev is appalled when he sees Mel

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being targeted at the service station.

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He saw Mel sort of shuffling along and saw how vulnerable she was.

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This makes me so angry.

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They're so close and yet she's completely oblivious,

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completely unaware, of what's going to happen.

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You almost want to tap her on the shoulder and say, "Look behind you."

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He suspects this prolific thief's crimes extend far beyond

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Derbyshire, so sends a still image of him to forces across the country.

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Out of the 43 forces that I put the bulletin out to,

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I think I had 35 responses, that people had similar problems.

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A police officer in Bedfordshire recognised my image and sent

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me an e-mail back, saying, "This is the man you're looking for.

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"I've had dealings with him."

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The officer gives Kev the suspect's name and tells him the man is

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from Eastern Europe and travels home regularly.

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Kev sends his image to ports and airports all over the UK and

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the man is soon stopped, trying to board a flight.

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Done a check on him, realised he was wanted by a number of forces,

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and stopped the flight and arrested him.

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The 27-year-old suspect is interviewed under caution.

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Faced with the evidence Kev has built up against him,

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the man admits to committing many crimes across the UK.

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In court, he was sentenced to a year and nine months in prison.

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When Mel sees for the first time the footage of how she was

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targeted, she's horrified.

0:19:550:19:57

It's awful to think that you're just sort of wandering around and

0:19:570:20:01

somebody's actually following you.

0:20:010:20:03

They've got you in their sights.

0:20:030:20:06

I certainly am a little bit more careful now.

0:20:060:20:09

But what about your holiday, Mel? How did it go?

0:20:110:20:14

It was lovely. When John came, it was smashing. We had a nice time.

0:20:140:20:20

Thieves can find it all too easy to steal from us when we're out

0:20:250:20:29

and about and distracted by what we're doing.

0:20:290:20:31

So, what can we do to keep them at bay?

0:20:310:20:34

Keep your valuable items somewhere completely safe,

0:20:340:20:37

so if you're carrying a handbag,

0:20:370:20:39

make sure it's across your body, rather than just along the side.

0:20:390:20:42

Gents, don't put your wallet in your back pocket,

0:20:420:20:45

where it's really easy to be taken.

0:20:450:20:46

And concentrate on your surroundings.

0:20:460:20:48

Don't always focus on your mobile phone while you're walking down the road.

0:20:480:20:52

Sometimes the way we act can deter a thief from targeting us.

0:20:520:20:55

So for example, if we are confident, we walk with purpose, and we act

0:20:550:21:00

like we know what we're doing, then often they won't bother approaching.

0:21:000:21:03

Distraction doesn't just take place in the street.

0:21:030:21:06

Sometimes, people pretending to be from the water board or from

0:21:060:21:09

the gas company may turn up and try and distract you on your doorstep.

0:21:090:21:13

So don't shy away from challenging them.

0:21:130:21:15

Close the door while you check their credentials and if that means

0:21:150:21:18

ringing the company, that's fine.

0:21:180:21:20

Like most towns these days,

0:21:280:21:30

Warrington in Cheshire has dozens of fitness centres.

0:21:300:21:33

One of them, a women-only health club,

0:21:360:21:38

was opened by Tracey and her friend Kim ten years ago.

0:21:380:21:42

Tracey had wanted to run a gym from an early age.

0:21:420:21:45

When I was 17, I saw a job advertisement for

0:21:450:21:50

a gym instructor and I actually went for the job and they said,

0:21:500:21:53

"You're not a qualified gym instructor."

0:21:530:21:55

I said, "I know, but I want to be."

0:21:550:21:56

And they said, "We quite like your attitude, yeah. We'll train you."

0:21:560:22:00

And I was general manager by 18.

0:22:000:22:02

But three years later, the company left the area.

0:22:020:22:05

I was devastated, but I had all these members with nowhere to go,

0:22:050:22:08

so I found this place.

0:22:080:22:11

Tracey rents a section of a former factory called Evans House,

0:22:110:22:15

now a busy centre full of separate businesses.

0:22:150:22:18

David Evans recently took over the running of the building from

0:22:180:22:22

-his father.

-Evans House is a family-run business.

0:22:220:22:25

We used to manufacture tents.

0:22:250:22:27

After that, we predominantly started investing in commercial property.

0:22:270:22:30

We ended up with this big building.

0:22:300:22:32

A lot of the tenants will have been here for a long, long time.

0:22:320:22:34

It's almost not a business centre. It's almost a community hub.

0:22:340:22:37

Tracey's decision to move to Evans House and make the health club

0:22:370:22:40

female-only has proved a resounding success.

0:22:400:22:44

No men obviously come into the club, unless something needs fixing.

0:22:440:22:48

They're good for something.

0:22:480:22:49

But obviously, with us being a ladies only club, it's very

0:22:490:22:52

rare for a man to come in and it's a very personal space for us.

0:22:520:22:55

It is a ladies-only gym for that reason.

0:22:550:22:58

But one night, a man does enter the club.

0:22:580:23:01

He's not there to fix something though. He's there to take things.

0:23:010:23:05

It's just gone 11pm.

0:23:090:23:11

A guard from a security company patrols the building at night.

0:23:110:23:15

The arrangement is he calls David if anything's wrong.

0:23:150:23:19

And he's just called.

0:23:190:23:21

You get the phone call and you think, "I know what this is going to be."

0:23:210:23:24

It's the right time. And it comes up on my phone as Sentry Security.

0:23:240:23:27

David phones the police and goes to the building.

0:23:270:23:30

When he gets there, he finds a pane of toughened glass

0:23:300:23:33

has been smashed in the door to Tracey's gym.

0:23:330:23:35

You could see on the other side that there was

0:23:350:23:37

a breezeblock and quite a lot of shattered glass,

0:23:370:23:39

so obviously, that was what they'd used to get through the door.

0:23:390:23:42

At home, Tracey discovers two missed calls from David and rings him back.

0:23:420:23:46

Obviously, for David to be ringing me at half 11,

0:23:460:23:49

something is seriously wrong. Has the whole building burned down?

0:23:490:23:51

And then obviously, he answered and said,

0:23:510:23:54

"You've had a break in at the club."

0:23:540:23:55

While Tracey heads to the gym, David bravely decides to go inside,

0:23:550:24:00

even though intruders could still be there.

0:24:000:24:03

I don't know whether they've broken in five minutes ago or five

0:24:030:24:06

hours ago and that's why I wanted to have a look.

0:24:060:24:08

David goes through the hole in the door,

0:24:080:24:11

so he can open a fire exit to let police officers in.

0:24:110:24:13

Tracey arrives soon after.

0:24:130:24:15

Not thinking about it,

0:24:150:24:16

I was crawling on my hands and knees to get through.

0:24:160:24:19

-It's quite a small door.

-Cut all his arms and hands at the same time.

0:24:190:24:23

Bleeding all over the place,

0:24:230:24:24

but didn't really have time to complain about it.

0:24:240:24:26

He was more concerned about us, the club.

0:24:260:24:29

He wanted to make sure it was OK. I think that kind of took over.

0:24:290:24:32

I had to go to the back of the unit as fast as possible to let

0:24:320:24:35

the police in, just in case anyone was in there because on my own,

0:24:350:24:38

I've no idea how many people there were at this point.

0:24:380:24:41

David opens the fire doors for the police and they start searching.

0:24:410:24:45

Tracey's anxious to see what's happened.

0:24:450:24:48

I'm thinking, "Has my gym equipment gone?" That'd be disastrous for me.

0:24:480:24:51

So I open the door and just pure relief that all the equipment

0:24:510:24:54

is still there, just shining at me. All the lights are still flashing.

0:24:540:24:59

There's no sign of the intruders, but they do find that drawers,

0:24:590:25:02

bags and cupboards have been rifled through.

0:25:020:25:05

Tracey's distraught when she realises her laptop is missing.

0:25:050:25:09

I would do anything to have that laptop back.

0:25:090:25:11

It's got ten years' worth of marketing, promotions.

0:25:110:25:14

But it's also got personal things on there as well.

0:25:140:25:17

Obviously, pictures of my kids, my wedding, obviously they've all gone.

0:25:170:25:21

David checks the night's CCTV recording.

0:25:210:25:24

He has cameras that overlook all the building's entry points.

0:25:240:25:27

That's when we went through all the footage and found the last

0:25:270:25:30

person in the building. Clear as day.

0:25:300:25:33

Straight up the stairs with a breezeblock in hand.

0:25:330:25:36

He shows the footage to Tracey and the police.

0:25:360:25:39

This is him then. On here is a list of where all the businesses are.

0:25:390:25:43

So it's like he's picking which one that he's going to go in to.

0:25:430:25:46

The man goes outside to pick up a breezeblock.

0:25:460:25:49

While the building's entrance door's open until late in the evening,

0:25:490:25:53

the businesses inside are all locked up.

0:25:530:25:56

Here he comes in now with his breezeblock in his hand.

0:25:560:25:59

But this intruder clearly isn't the sharpest of criminals.

0:25:590:26:02

You can see there, he's got nothing to cover his face,

0:26:020:26:05

no gloves on, his prints are everywhere.

0:26:050:26:08

And obviously, he'll come up the stairs now to the club.

0:26:080:26:11

The burglar spends half an hour in the gym.

0:26:110:26:14

The CCTV cameras pick him up again, as he's leaving.

0:26:140:26:18

When you see him with the bag, there... Oh, my God!

0:26:180:26:21

That's like one of my girls' bags.

0:26:210:26:23

I want to scream at the screen and say, "That's my stuff!

0:26:230:26:25

"Give it me back!"

0:26:250:26:27

And inside the bag is Tracey's precious laptop.

0:26:270:26:31

You can see him there, he's got my laptop cable round his mouth.

0:26:310:26:36

Why he does that, I don't know.

0:26:360:26:37

And then as he walks back down the stairs,

0:26:370:26:40

he puts his hand there, they've got fingerprints from that.

0:26:400:26:43

And then he's got the laptop cable, just trailing behind.

0:26:430:26:46

Not bothered in the slightest about looking after it.

0:26:460:26:49

He's just obviously taken it to sell it.

0:26:490:26:51

The police take still images from the footage to try and

0:26:510:26:54

identify the man and David also wants to do some detective work.

0:26:540:26:58

Ever since I took over running the family business,

0:26:580:27:01

I've decided to use social media a lot more in marketing and I

0:27:010:27:04

just thought - there must be someone who knows this gentleman.

0:27:040:27:07

Let's go and put it on social media and see what happens.

0:27:070:27:10

So I did the same on my personal social media account.

0:27:100:27:13

And within minutes, it was everywhere.

0:27:130:27:17

Tracey finds the response from friends and strangers reassuring.

0:27:170:27:20

When you've been broken into, you think that the world's against you.

0:27:200:27:23

But people come to you and say, "Well, what can we do to help you?"

0:27:230:27:27

It's really humbling to think that people are like that really.

0:27:270:27:29

We got about 20,000 likes on it and we knew very quickly who the

0:27:290:27:33

gentleman was, or at least had the idea to pass on to the police then.

0:27:330:27:36

The police had identified the same suspect.

0:27:360:27:39

They soon track him down and arrest him.

0:27:390:27:42

In court, he pleaded guilty to the burglary and was also found

0:27:440:27:48

guilty of possession of a weapon.

0:27:480:27:50

He was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison.

0:27:500:27:52

Tracey didn't let the burglary throw her business off track.

0:27:570:28:00

-She was soon back in the saddle.

-Nothing stops us.

0:28:000:28:03

It was actually our ten year anniversary that weekend that

0:28:030:28:06

he broke in. So I was determined I would not be shut at all.

0:28:060:28:10

So by ten o'clock, we were open.

0:28:100:28:13

And the thief had better steer clear of Tracey's gym from now on.

0:28:130:28:17

If this man was ever to step foot anywhere near here,

0:28:170:28:19

they'd have 1,000 members ready to pin him down.

0:28:190:28:22

That's all for today.

0:28:280:28:29

Thousands of criminals are captured on camera every year.

0:28:290:28:33

Make sure you join us next time to see more villains who've been

0:28:330:28:36

Caught Red Handed.

0:28:360:28:38

A post office is raided by two knifemen, and the owner bravely takes them on so his colleagues can escape. And a man cold-heartedly robs an elderly lady, but he soon gets his comeuppance.


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