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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Thieves will steal our cash, our cars, our valuables.
Just about anything they can get their hands on.
But now the police are using cutting-edge technology to catch the bad guys.
CCTV is gold dust.
-Great evidence for the police.
-Got to have him stopped.
Local councils, shops and businesses
are fighting crime with their own tricks and traps.
There's an eureka moment when you get that evidence.
And the public are using secret cameras to make sure crooks
get their comeuppance.
It makes me feel so angry.
He's paid the price, he's been dealt with.
Yes! We've got her!
So anyone who's up to no good had better think twice.
They might just get Caught Red Handed.
Today - suddenly, armed robbers leap over the counters
of a shop in a shocking attack.
The owner, Ali, puts his life on the line so his colleagues can escape.
I knew I had to do something to divert his attention
so the girls could run to safety.
But his assistant, Pav, doesn't want to leave her boss behind.
He was bleeding on the back of his head. I felt like I should help him.
Also today - 80-year-old Mel is targeted by a predatory thief.
Cameras at a motorway services show what Mel can't see -
her every move is being stalked by a shadowy stranger.
It's awful to think that somebody is actually following you,
got you in their sights.
This man in the cap preys on older people.
But police are on his trail.
The hunter's about to become the hunted.
And Tracey is the manager of a women-only gym.
No men obviously come into the club, unless something needs fixing.
They're good for something.
But late one night, a man does come in, and he's up to no good.
I want to scream at the screen and say, "That's my stuff! Give it me back!"
Long-term Newcastle resident Ali has run a shop
with a Post Office in the West End of the city for seven years.
I used to have a coach company before this.
I've always got on well with the public
and that's what I love about this job.
You see all different kinds of people coming in.
I'm doing something helpful and it's a really huge part of my life.
Pav has been a member of Ali's team for four years.
Ali, generally, he just likes to have a joke with all the customers.
Never takes anything too seriously.
Which is good. You need to have a laugh.
But Ali and Pav are about to face a situation
which is as serious as it gets.
It's late morning in November.
Ali's behind the shop counter
and Pav is in the separate Post Office section of the store
with a female colleague.
The store's security cameras
show how this man in a blue hoodie approaches the shop.
He walks in and heads straight to Ali.
This guy came in with a hood on
and he came to my counter first
and then to the Post Office counter.
The man goes over to where Pav is serving another customer.
He then leaves without doing any business,
and makes a call on his phone.
20 minutes later, he comes back with another man in a hoodie.
The men enter the store and split up.
And then, suddenly, this quiet morning takes a violent turn.
One of the men launches himself across the counter to attack Ali.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
I thought it was just a disgruntled customer, you know.
When he jumped over the counter and struggled with me,
that's when I realised that it was a lot more serious
and I had to sort of defend myself.
Pav watches on - horrified.
There were things flying all over.
You know, he was really laying into him.
I felt like I should help him, but at the same time,
I thought if I go out there, help him, he could attack myself.
Ali realises the man has a weapon.
He held a knife to my throat.
He shouted, "Give me the money! Give me the money!"
But on the other side of the shop, there's more horror to come
when the robber's accomplice jumps onto the Post Office counter.
Pav and her colleague are terrified.
He just shouted, "Give us your cash!"
Seeing him holding a knife, you fear for your life.
I thought, you know, he's going to jump over.
If he jumps over, then what do I do?
One of them was threatening the girls.
I knew I had to do something to divert his attention
so the girls could run to safety.
That's why I struggled with my guy.
Ali takes on the man with the knife and gets pushed to the floor.
The robber reaches for the money in the till,
but Ali keeps fighting and wrestles him away.
As Ali hopes, the robber's accomplice is distracted
by the struggle and Pav realises there could be a chance
to escape into the back office.
I could see the key on the ledge, where we keep it,
and I just thought, I've just got to grab that key.
If I don't and he jumps over, then it could get a lot worse.
But Pav doesn't want to go for the key while the robber's watching her.
Ali continues to fight.
He couldn't get the better of me,
so he called his friend over to give him a hand.
Ali's plan has worked.
When the other robber leaves the Post Office section,
Pav gets the key and escapes with her colleague.
But Ali is now outnumbered.
I got the full brunt of both of them.
And suddenly, Ali's situation becomes even more serious.
Both men have knives and the second robber aims his knife at Ali's head.
I was feeling sharp blows
and the blood was trickling down the back of my neck.
It was really horrible.
Pav is absolutely horrified
as she watches through the back office window.
You feel really helpless. I got the phone, I dialled 999.
But Ali's resistance has paid off.
The robbers give up on the raid and flee from the store.
I tried to stop one of them from jumping back over the counter,
but I think I was too tired after that.
The men run out of the shop and Ali chases after them.
There was no plan, I just wanted to see where they'd gone to
so I could let the police know where they were.
Ali loses sight of the robbers, but thanks to his bravery,
they've gone away empty-handed.
When they finally left, it was a sense of relief.
You know, they've gone, I can go out and see if Ali's all right.
I was just hyper.
He was bleeding on the back of his head and on his forehead.
Obviously, he was shocked and a little bit upset.
The knife was hitting me on the back of the head.
Thank God that's one of the hardest parts for knives to pierce, as well.
It was, er... And luckily, I got away with minor injuries.
Within minutes, the police arrive and start gathering evidence.
To the relief of PC Phil Thoburn, who's heading the investigation,
several witnesses come forward.
The first witness had simply seen
two men running quickly away from the Post Office.
The witness thought, "Well, this must be something".
The witness says the men ran down a lane near Ali's store.
Luckily, another resident near the bottom of the street
directed police to a house
where they saw two males going in through the back door.
Police knock on the door, but no-one answers.
So they force entry and find two men inside.
Both males insist their innocence,
claim that the police have woke them up.
The officers search the house and find hidden clothes and trainers.
This clothing becomes crucial to the investigation
because it matches up
with the clothing worn by the offenders caught on CCTV.
The suspects are arrested and taken into custody.
Both denied the offence.
It's always the police's responsibility to prove identification.
Phil re-examines the CCTV.
We were fortunate that whilst this was a planned robbery,
you'd have to say the offenders weren't good at it.
They weren't good at it because you see as they come into the store
that they offer up a clear facial shot.
As they come in, facial shots.
All great for identification from a police perspective.
The images look identical to the men they've just arrested.
And that's not all.
The two counters the offenders had jumped upon were examined
and from there, two footprints were recovered.
These two footprints have been examined against the footwear
recovered from the offenders and we established
that the same size and model of footwear corresponded exactly.
Faced with this damning evidence, both men admit to the crime.
I was overwhelmed that they caught them the same day.
I just couldn't believe it.
In court, the 22-year-old who first attacked Ali
was jailed for four years.
The 19-year-old who threatened Pav before joining in the assault on Ali
was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.
Despite the ordeal, life soon returned to normal for Ali and Pav.
I wasn't going to let the two young lads scare us
or put us off coming into work.
All of the regular customers were lovely.
They all came in to ask how we were doing and they were really concerned.
So it was quite nice to know you're cared for.
I was really, really happy that they didn't get away with anything
and I was really proud of myself as well. I had that satisfied feeling.
That was really nice.
Fortunately, not all crime is serious crime,
not while there are inept criminals like these two.
They're trying to break in to these premises late at night.
Strange choice. It's not a bank, nor a shop. It's an estate agents.
But they're clearly keen to view this property.
One of them casually leans against the door,
trying to look innocent, before breaking the lower window.
Maybe they think the door needs a cat flap,
but as they crawl through it, it's obvious these two are no cat
burglars because they get in a right flap when the alarm goes off.
And they run around like Tom and Jerry,
before deciding to turn tail back through the flap.
An estate agents isn't exactly a prime location for
a burglary anyway.
There's nothing to steal, just pens and property details.
And they left behind a couple of important details themselves.
They didn't cover their faces.
The footage has been handed to the police
who hope somebody can identify these two prize properties,
so that they can be taken off the market.
It's important to keep an eye on our debit and credit cards
because some light-fingered criminals will do just about
anything to get their dirty mitts on our plastic.
The popular seaside resort of Scarborough is home
to 80-year-old Mel and her husband of 57 years, John.
They loved visiting the town so much,
they decided to move here in 1998.
It is lovely.
I often don't draw the curtains.
I wake up in the morning to sunshine mainly.
And the sunsets we get are fabulous!
But nice as Scarborough is, it can get chilly during the winter, so Mel
and John occasionally go to Florida to soak up the sun,
while splashing out on presents for their grandchildren.
At that time of year, it's perfect. I love it.
Mel sometimes has to go out to America ahead of John because
of his work commitments.
Even though she finds it difficult to walk,
Mel doesn't let it stop her travelling alone.
As soon as I get to the airport, there's a wheelchair.
And everybody is so nice.
But Mel's latest trip to America almost ends in heartbreak,
when she becomes the target of a ruthless thief.
It's just before Christmas and Mel's driving down to stay with her
son near Gatwick, before her flight the next day.
After a short stint behind the wheel, she feels she needs a break.
Once you start wanting the loo, you want the loo.
She pulls in to a service station on the M1 in Derbyshire.
-There was a knock on the window.
-KNOCK ON THE WINDOW
And there was this man and he made a sign with his hands that
he wanted money and he wanted to eat.
So I said, "I'm sorry, do you speak English?" "No, no, no."
So I just got my purse and I emptied it.
There was only about 40-odd pence.
He didn't say thank you, which was naughty. And off he went.
Mel gets out of the car and puts her purse in her jacket pocket.
She doesn't realise it, but she's being watched.
The service station's CCTV shows Mel making her way in to the services.
On the other side of the entrance,
the cameras show the man she gave money to has come in ahead of her.
He's waiting with another man and a woman.
I saw the man sitting on a bench and he looked at me and
he didn't show any recognition at all and I thought, you know,
it would have been polite.
But Mel certainly does have the attention of the man in the flat cap.
He follows her with his friends.
As Mel browses round the shops, he stays close by.
Distracted, she doesn't realise she's being stalked.
She pauses at a book stand.
The man's companion appears to put her hand towards Mel's pocket...
..but quickly pulls it away again when
a member of the public walks close by.
Oblivious to what's happening, Mel strolls on,
out of sight of the cameras.
The man in the flat cap follows.
Ten minutes later, when Mel gets back to her car, she gets a shock.
I put my hand in my pocket and there was no purse.
After searching the car, she thinks she must have dropped the purse
and retraces her steps to try and find it.
But no joy.
So I've lost my driving licence and all of my cards and £400.
She's now stranded and calls her husband,
who drives down to meet her at the service station.
My husband came and gave me some more money.
And off I went.
Mel continues to her son's house,
where next morning a security man from the service station calls her.
Having watched the CCTV, he suspects she's a victim of pickpocketing.
I just couldn't believe it.
You know, I just...
It really must be awful, that that's your way of living,
is taking money from people.
I didn't feel kindly about him, whoever he was!
It turns out there are other victims who don't feel too kindly
about the man in the flat cap either.
Detective Sergeant Kev Morrissey from Buxton Police Station in
Derbyshire has been investigating a spate of crimes that bear
similar hallmarks to Mel's theft.
One of the saddest aspects of this investigation really,
virtually every victim that we've dealt with,
apart from the odd one or two, have been elderly, female and vulnerable.
Kev is gathering CCTV evidence of the crimes which have been happening
around supermarkets too and he's noticed there's one person
who keeps popping up in the footage. The man in the flat cap.
Here, he's seen standing next to an elderly couple.
As they turn to leave, the couple are crowded and jostled.
While she's distracted, the woman's purse vanishes from her handbag.
They're just going about their daily business and they don't
realise they've just been a victim of theft.
Kev continues to build up CCTV evidence against the man.
While some of the crimes are pickpocketing,
others are more sophisticated,
as this footage from another shop shows.
This time, he's not got his hat on.
His target is this customer paying at the checkout.
He goes and stands behind her.
The victim's now putting her card in to the PIN card machine and
she's now putting her PIN number in.
And he's in a perfect position to spy the woman's PIN number.
She's now about to push her trolley over,
there's the principle offender that has been stood there all the time.
The man then follows her to the car park and steals her handbag
while she's putting her shopping in to her car.
Later, he uses the PIN number to take £500 from her bank account.
It's horrendous, horrible.
Kev is appalled when he sees Mel
being targeted at the service station.
He saw Mel sort of shuffling along and saw how vulnerable she was.
This makes me so angry.
They're so close and yet she's completely oblivious,
completely unaware, of what's going to happen.
You almost want to tap her on the shoulder and say, "Look behind you."
He suspects this prolific thief's crimes extend far beyond
Derbyshire, so sends a still image of him to forces across the country.
Out of the 43 forces that I put the bulletin out to,
I think I had 35 responses, that people had similar problems.
A police officer in Bedfordshire recognised my image and sent
me an e-mail back, saying, "This is the man you're looking for.
"I've had dealings with him."
The officer gives Kev the suspect's name and tells him the man is
from Eastern Europe and travels home regularly.
Kev sends his image to ports and airports all over the UK and
the man is soon stopped, trying to board a flight.
Done a check on him, realised he was wanted by a number of forces,
and stopped the flight and arrested him.
The 27-year-old suspect is interviewed under caution.
Faced with the evidence Kev has built up against him,
the man admits to committing many crimes across the UK.
In court, he was sentenced to a year and nine months in prison.
When Mel sees for the first time the footage of how she was
targeted, she's horrified.
It's awful to think that you're just sort of wandering around and
somebody's actually following you.
They've got you in their sights.
I certainly am a little bit more careful now.
But what about your holiday, Mel? How did it go?
It was lovely. When John came, it was smashing. We had a nice time.
Thieves can find it all too easy to steal from us when we're out
and about and distracted by what we're doing.
So, what can we do to keep them at bay?
Keep your valuable items somewhere completely safe,
so if you're carrying a handbag,
make sure it's across your body, rather than just along the side.
Gents, don't put your wallet in your back pocket,
where it's really easy to be taken.
And concentrate on your surroundings.
Don't always focus on your mobile phone while you're walking down the road.
Sometimes the way we act can deter a thief from targeting us.
So for example, if we are confident, we walk with purpose, and we act
like we know what we're doing, then often they won't bother approaching.
Distraction doesn't just take place in the street.
Sometimes, people pretending to be from the water board or from
the gas company may turn up and try and distract you on your doorstep.
So don't shy away from challenging them.
Close the door while you check their credentials and if that means
ringing the company, that's fine.
Like most towns these days,
Warrington in Cheshire has dozens of fitness centres.
One of them, a women-only health club,
was opened by Tracey and her friend Kim ten years ago.
Tracey had wanted to run a gym from an early age.
When I was 17, I saw a job advertisement for
a gym instructor and I actually went for the job and they said,
"You're not a qualified gym instructor."
I said, "I know, but I want to be."
And they said, "We quite like your attitude, yeah. We'll train you."
And I was general manager by 18.
But three years later, the company left the area.
I was devastated, but I had all these members with nowhere to go,
so I found this place.
Tracey rents a section of a former factory called Evans House,
now a busy centre full of separate businesses.
David Evans recently took over the running of the building from
-Evans House is a family-run business.
We used to manufacture tents.
After that, we predominantly started investing in commercial property.
We ended up with this big building.
A lot of the tenants will have been here for a long, long time.
It's almost not a business centre. It's almost a community hub.
Tracey's decision to move to Evans House and make the health club
female-only has proved a resounding success.
No men obviously come into the club, unless something needs fixing.
They're good for something.
But obviously, with us being a ladies only club, it's very
rare for a man to come in and it's a very personal space for us.
It is a ladies-only gym for that reason.
But one night, a man does enter the club.
He's not there to fix something though. He's there to take things.
It's just gone 11pm.
A guard from a security company patrols the building at night.
The arrangement is he calls David if anything's wrong.
And he's just called.
You get the phone call and you think, "I know what this is going to be."
It's the right time. And it comes up on my phone as Sentry Security.
David phones the police and goes to the building.
When he gets there, he finds a pane of toughened glass
has been smashed in the door to Tracey's gym.
You could see on the other side that there was
a breezeblock and quite a lot of shattered glass,
so obviously, that was what they'd used to get through the door.
At home, Tracey discovers two missed calls from David and rings him back.
Obviously, for David to be ringing me at half 11,
something is seriously wrong. Has the whole building burned down?
And then obviously, he answered and said,
"You've had a break in at the club."
While Tracey heads to the gym, David bravely decides to go inside,
even though intruders could still be there.
I don't know whether they've broken in five minutes ago or five
hours ago and that's why I wanted to have a look.
David goes through the hole in the door,
so he can open a fire exit to let police officers in.
Tracey arrives soon after.
Not thinking about it,
I was crawling on my hands and knees to get through.
-It's quite a small door.
-Cut all his arms and hands at the same time.
Bleeding all over the place,
but didn't really have time to complain about it.
He was more concerned about us, the club.
He wanted to make sure it was OK. I think that kind of took over.
I had to go to the back of the unit as fast as possible to let
the police in, just in case anyone was in there because on my own,
I've no idea how many people there were at this point.
David opens the fire doors for the police and they start searching.
Tracey's anxious to see what's happened.
I'm thinking, "Has my gym equipment gone?" That'd be disastrous for me.
So I open the door and just pure relief that all the equipment
is still there, just shining at me. All the lights are still flashing.
There's no sign of the intruders, but they do find that drawers,
bags and cupboards have been rifled through.
Tracey's distraught when she realises her laptop is missing.
I would do anything to have that laptop back.
It's got ten years' worth of marketing, promotions.
But it's also got personal things on there as well.
Obviously, pictures of my kids, my wedding, obviously they've all gone.
David checks the night's CCTV recording.
He has cameras that overlook all the building's entry points.
That's when we went through all the footage and found the last
person in the building. Clear as day.
Straight up the stairs with a breezeblock in hand.
He shows the footage to Tracey and the police.
This is him then. On here is a list of where all the businesses are.
So it's like he's picking which one that he's going to go in to.
The man goes outside to pick up a breezeblock.
While the building's entrance door's open until late in the evening,
the businesses inside are all locked up.
Here he comes in now with his breezeblock in his hand.
But this intruder clearly isn't the sharpest of criminals.
You can see there, he's got nothing to cover his face,
no gloves on, his prints are everywhere.
And obviously, he'll come up the stairs now to the club.
The burglar spends half an hour in the gym.
The CCTV cameras pick him up again, as he's leaving.
When you see him with the bag, there... Oh, my God!
That's like one of my girls' bags.
I want to scream at the screen and say, "That's my stuff!
"Give it me back!"
And inside the bag is Tracey's precious laptop.
You can see him there, he's got my laptop cable round his mouth.
Why he does that, I don't know.
And then as he walks back down the stairs,
he puts his hand there, they've got fingerprints from that.
And then he's got the laptop cable, just trailing behind.
Not bothered in the slightest about looking after it.
He's just obviously taken it to sell it.
The police take still images from the footage to try and
identify the man and David also wants to do some detective work.
Ever since I took over running the family business,
I've decided to use social media a lot more in marketing and I
just thought - there must be someone who knows this gentleman.
Let's go and put it on social media and see what happens.
So I did the same on my personal social media account.
And within minutes, it was everywhere.
Tracey finds the response from friends and strangers reassuring.
When you've been broken into, you think that the world's against you.
But people come to you and say, "Well, what can we do to help you?"
It's really humbling to think that people are like that really.
We got about 20,000 likes on it and we knew very quickly who the
gentleman was, or at least had the idea to pass on to the police then.
The police had identified the same suspect.
They soon track him down and arrest him.
In court, he pleaded guilty to the burglary and was also found
guilty of possession of a weapon.
He was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison.
Tracey didn't let the burglary throw her business off track.
-She was soon back in the saddle.
-Nothing stops us.
It was actually our ten year anniversary that weekend that
he broke in. So I was determined I would not be shut at all.
So by ten o'clock, we were open.
And the thief had better steer clear of Tracey's gym from now on.
If this man was ever to step foot anywhere near here,
they'd have 1,000 members ready to pin him down.
That's all for today.
Thousands of criminals are captured on camera every year.
Make sure you join us next time to see more villains who've been
Caught Red Handed.
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.