Episode 13 Caught Red Handed


Episode 13

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. Featuring a ram raid by a pair of bickering burglars, and a thief who helps himself to two hanging baskets.


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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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We want to make sure we've got a concrete case.

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Enough evidence to convict at court.

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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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Just unbelievable that she thinks she can get away with this.

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And the public are using secret cameras

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to make sure the crooks get their comeuppance.

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Fair means or foul, I was going to get rid of him.

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I thought, we've got her!

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I was so happy, thank God!

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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, Carolyn and the Gary's happy family home becomes a crime scene

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when burglars raid their house

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and then go on a shopping spree with their bank cards.

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It affected Carolyn pretty badly, really.

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How can these people do such a thing?

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But the next day, a chance sighting of the thieves

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leads to a high speed police pursuit.

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Left, left, left.

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A shocking crash.

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Stand-by, he's crashed, he's crashed.

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And a frantic chase on foot.

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Also today, a ram raid in the dead of night.

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But this isn't a bank or post office,

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it's Dawn and Roly's garden machinery workshop.

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I just felt sick to the bottom of my stomach

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that somebody had been in here.

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But these two readers spend more time arguing than stealing.

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They just can't decide who's in the driving seat.

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Also later, a cheeky thief decides to help himself to two hanging baskets

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full of flowers but the baskets aren't the only things coming down.

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So are his trousers.

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Because modern cars are hard to steal,

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thieves are increasingly breaking into people's houses

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to get their car keys

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and that means that the victims have got the emotional upset

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of a burglary, as well as losing their car.

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A suburban residential road in Hyde in Greater Manchester.

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Married couple Gary and Carolyn decided this was a good spot

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to bring up their two daughters, Millie and Libby.

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I've lived here for most of my life, so I knew the area, nice and quiet.

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We love it here, we've got lovely neighbours.

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The children play on the front

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and it's where we thought that we'd be safe

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and that our children would be safe.

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Carolyn and Gary both work full-time,

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Gary recently started a new job and was handed a brand-new company BMW.

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Never had anything as exotic as a BM before.

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I think he might like the idea of driving a nice sporty BMW car.

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Really chuffed to get that.

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Last year, the couple organised a well-earned break for the family.

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We'd always planned to go away in the half-term holidays,

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so we decided that we'd go to EuroDisney.

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It was an important time for us,

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to have family time away together.

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And we're going off into the new car so that was exciting times.

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But the holiday they're so looking forward to

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is nearly ruined before it even started.

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It's late at night,

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a few days before their planned holiday

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and the family is fast asleep in bed.

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Earlier in the day, Carolyn received two new bank cards

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in the post.

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They're safe inside her handbag downstairs.

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Or so she thinks.

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At 3am Carolyn suddenly woken by a text on her phone from her bank.

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It said "Cards declined, contact the fraud squad."

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But Carolyn hasn't used her new cards yet so she assumes the bank

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is making a mistake and goes back to sleep.

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But this is no mistake, her two new bank cards are being used,

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by someone else.

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This security footage from a nearby supermarket shows what has happened.

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Two men have rushed to a cash point

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and withdrawn £500 with Carolyn's cards.

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Then a little later another all-night supermarket camera

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shows these two men entering with an empty trolley.

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But it isn't empty for long.

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Next we see them approaching a self-service till with a large television.

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But their attempt to buy the TV comes unstuck,

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it's judged to be unusual activity by Carolyn's bank's computer system

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and the transaction is declined.

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That's why Carolyn has received the alert from the bank.

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At 6am, she wakes up to get ready for work.

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I came into the kitchen and saw that the cupboard doors were wide open

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and my bag, some of the contents were just scattered on the floor.

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Carolyn rushes upstairs to tell Gary.

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It was that point I then looked out of the window, checked the cars,

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mine wasn't there, so you're thinking,

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something's happened somewhere.

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They go back downstairs and the full horror hits them.

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The window had been smashed, we left the keys in the door,

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they'd reached through,

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got the keys and let themselves in, which leaves you a bit distraught

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knowing you made it very easy for them.

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They realised Carolyn's bank cards and Gary's car key and his car

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have gone.

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It's shock and disbelief, really.

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It's the thought that somebody had actually broken into our home

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whilst we were in bed.

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But I'm thinking I can't believe I've not heard it.

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I would have heard the glass smashing, I should've done more.

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Gary phones the police and Carolyn calls the bank.

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She finds out about the £500 taken out of their bank account.

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We have no money to pay for the holiday now,

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as that's where the holiday money was.

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We have no way of getting there,

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we're booked onto the ferries, we're booked into hotels.

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You're just thinking, it's just all gone wrong at the wrong time.

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The case is passed to Detective Sergeant Roger Smethurst

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of the Greater Manchester Police serious and organised crime group.

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It's important if you've been a victim of a burglary

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that you feel safe within your own house

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and part of that is knowing that the people

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responsible for it have been caught an are in prison and aren't going to come back again.

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And it is really something that I'm really passionate about.

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In recent years,

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Roger has seen a worrying rise in the number of cases of car thieves

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breaking into houses.

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Long gone are the days where cars are stolen off the street

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through just forcing a look and hot-wiring the ignition.

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And what we've seen is an increasing number of burglaries,

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where people will break into properties

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in order to get the vehicle keys.

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Roger believes Gary's new BMW

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is the reason his house has been targeted by organised criminals.

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The question is, can he find out who they are?

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Later, an eagle-eyed officer spots Gary's car

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on the streets of Manchester.

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The thieves realise they're being followed

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and recklessly try to escape.

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First by car.

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And then on foot.

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And now for a theft that could be called a basket case

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for more than one reason.

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This man striding up to the front door of a house

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apparently has a bit of a hang-up about hanging baskets.

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He unhooks not one,

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but two of them...

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..and runs down the road in a dainty fashion.

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To make the whole thing even more ridiculous...

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..his trousers start falling down.

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Obviously, he can't pull them up

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because his hands are full with somebody else's flowers.

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But the police don't hang about identifying him,

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as these security cameras have captured his face.

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Also the house's owner,

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after wondering why on earth anybody would want to pinch his plants,

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puts the embarrassing footage on social media.

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It turns out this man is no budding criminal, he's got previous.

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Ironically, being caught taking down hanging baskets

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meant he was actually in breach of a suspended sentence.

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He was given three months in jail, where, presumably,

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he'll have had plenty of time to weave a few baskets of his own.

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Ram raiders attack a family-run garden machinery business.

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They've come to steal and when at first they don't succeed,

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they try again,

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and again.

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But these two amateurish raiders are in for a surprise.

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Good afternoon. Can I help you, please?

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On an industrial estate in Hampshire there's a garden machinery workshop

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run by Roly, his wife Dawn, and their son, Sam.

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It's a local business, family-run, servicing,

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repairing, sales, of equipment used in the garden.

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Roly was working at the company 17 years ago when the owner,

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who was retiring, offered him the chance to take it over.

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Roly came home and said, "Do you want to buy a lawnmower company?"

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And I guess the rest is history!

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They found running a garden equipment business

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was no bed of roses.

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Early days, life was pretty tough.

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All our savings, everything went into it.

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I was working with Roly during the day.

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I was working nights at Sainsbury's.

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Young Sam kept busy as well.

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I was servicing motors at, like, ten years old.

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Obviously, accompanied by my dad.

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I was just kind of having a bit of a vibe that, you know,

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this is what I want to do when I'm older and, 17 years later, here I am.

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As the business grew, the family could relax a little bit more.

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They've even found time to put their expertise with small engines

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to use having some fun.

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They go mower racing.

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The lawn mower racing is a charity run club.

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We all pay money to race and any local charities

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benefit from what we do.

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I help do a lot of the time scoring.

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It's having fun but also raising good money for the charities

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that we do.

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But then, after all the years of working hard and raising money for

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charity, the family suddenly and dramatically

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become victims of crime.

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Early one morning in January, the family are driving to the workshop.

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They have been woken by an alert from their alarm system,

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but they've had false alarms before, and when they arrive,

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everything seems OK.

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Checked, obviously, outside, couldn't see anything.

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We've gone through and having a look,

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there isn't really any sign of any break in.

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Sam was in front of me and then suddenly Sam was just like,

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"Oh, my goodness."

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It hit me very hard because we see a hole in the middle of the wall

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and it's a double-skinned wall.

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Somebody's taken a lot of time to get through that wall.

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It's a shock to see the extent of the damage to their building.

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I just felt sick to the bottom of my stomach,

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that somebody had been in here.

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Sam calls the police.

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Having a little deep breathe in and out and having a look,

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that was then when you start to notice, right, this is missing,

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that's gone missing.

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Oh, my goodness, we've been wiped out of chainsaws.

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I was just devastated beyond words, really.

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£9,000 worth of equipment has been stolen.

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It makes me really angry,

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because we've put everything into this and when somebody does that,

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it takes everything away from what you've, you know, worked for.

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The police arrive and look at the shop's CCTV recording.

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Though it's captured one of the burglars stealing some chainsaws,

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it doesn't provide any leads.

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Unfortunately, they were masked.

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They came equipped, they knew what they were doing, there was no trace.

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They even took the bricks with them as well,

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from the hole in the back of the workshop.

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It's very frustrating.

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I mean, you can see on the CCTV the person that's done it,

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but there's no evidence to suggest who it is.

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The police investigation makes no headway and, in the following weeks,

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the family has to try and put the burglary behind them.

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But then, two months later,

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Dawn receives another alert in the early hours.

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Every night I'd been checking my phone,

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just making sure the property's fine.

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So when the alarm had gone off,

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it was just disbelief and I couldn't pick my phone up quick enough.

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The workshop CCTV system sends a live stream to Dawn's phone.

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She's horrified to see a car ramming into their workshop.

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My heart just drops.

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I couldn't believe that we were being targeted again.

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I dialled 999 straightaway.

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My mum was watching this car burst its way into

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the front of the workshop.

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It was happening right now.

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I'm down and out the door.

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My old man, Roly,

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he jumps in the car with me and we didn't really know what was

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going to happen, but we were going to do whatever was necessary.

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As Sam races to the shop with his dad,

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Dawn continues watching the ram raid on her mobile and keeps the police

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updated on a landline.

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I was sort of relaying everything that was happening.

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There are two men in the car that's rammed the building's

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front metal shutter.

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The driver gets out and looks inside.

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Obviously it's dark, they can't see a thing.

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The driver goes back to the car and picks up a torch,

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then he stumbles back inside the pitch-black building.

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The other man stays in the passenger seat.

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The one inside then scrambles back to the car.

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It's just horrible watching it.

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They then appear to drive off - but not for long.

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They turn around to ram the shutter again.

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It seems their first ramming hadn't left them enough room to take

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anything, and it looks like they've bungled it again.

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I don't think they knew what they were doing.

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They had a little fight outside, you could see it on the CCTV.

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The driver gets out and the passenger jumps across into the driver's seat,

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but the driver's having none of it

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and angrily pushes the passenger back in his place.

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They ram the shutter again.

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The passenger opens his door so he can jump out,

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but the driver doesn't give him the chance.

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He rams the building so hard this time,

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he manages to get clear of the shutter and runs inside.

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But it seems his accomplice doesn't want to stick around.

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He shuffles over to the driver's side and reverses out,

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abandoning the mission.

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The other man runs after him, jumps into the car just in time

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and they head off.

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Sam and his dad reach the shop seconds later.

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When we got down here, we'd only literally just missed them.

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I went straight for the office and went through the camera.

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Soon after Sam starts watching the footage, the police arrive,

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closely followed by Dawn.

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I came down in my pyjamas

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and just absolutely couldn't believe what I was seeing.

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To see the shutter demolished,

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I was just totally lost for what to do.

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The police officers are impressed

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with the quality of the CCTV pictures.

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We got the number plate of the vehicle, we got the make,

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we knew exactly what car it was.

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The officers with Sam radio an alert for colleagues to watch out

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for a blue car with those plates, and they don't have to wait long.

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All of a sudden, police officers are jumping in their cars and going.

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Five of them just darted off.

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Sam and Roly came out the office and say, "Don't worry", you know,

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"They think there's a bit of action happening".

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The suspect vehicle has been stopped by police officers

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in a patrol car nearby.

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They've got them on the side of the road, you know,

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just five or ten minutes up the road.

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It's a great relief to the family

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that the men have been caught so quickly.

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I can't even put into words how fantastic that felt,

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and straightaway they admitted what they'd done.

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I think both of them were drunk.

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It turns out the men have committed a number of crimes,

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but there's no evidence to tie them to the previous burglary

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at the mower shop.

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That was a much slicker operation than this clumsy attempt.

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I understand they'd been on a little bit of a naughty spree

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of doing other things.

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With our quick response of seeing the issue,

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phoning the police and having them down as quick as we did,

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ended up with the arrest.

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In court, one of the men was sentenced to two years in prison,

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suspended for two years, while the other man got 14 months in prison,

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suspended for 18 months.

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They were both banned from driving for three years,

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ordered to undergo alcohol treatment programmes

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and to pay £140 in victim surcharges.

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The family was grateful for the support they received

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from friends and neighbours after the raid.

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You can see true people and true friends, family,

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in these very bad incidents.

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It's good to know that people have got your back and the police,

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I thank them greatly for the quick response that they gave that night.

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They have reinforced their defences with bollards

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to prevent further ram raids and a strong fence round the back,

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together with more cameras.

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We're not going to be beaten.

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We've got a healthy future and we're here to stay.

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There are millions of security cameras in the UK

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and they're proving highly effective in helping to catch criminals.

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But if you're thinking of taking the plunge and investing in CCTV,

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what are the dos and what are the don'ts?

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You need to think about what you want that CCTV to achieve.

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Is it just an inside, is it an outside shot?

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Does it need to be activated by motion?

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Do you need to be able to see in the dark?

0:19:220:19:23

The best type of cameras to get fitted nowadays are those that have

0:19:230:19:26

got remote viewing through smartphones,

0:19:260:19:29

which means that people can be away on holiday, abroad.

0:19:290:19:32

We sometimes get offences reported in Darlington,

0:19:320:19:35

whereby people are in Spain, for example, and they'll report

0:19:350:19:39

suspicious activity or burglaries at their home addresses.

0:19:390:19:42

If you've got a CCTV system, you need to maintain it.

0:19:420:19:45

You need to keep it working and in best order.

0:19:450:19:47

Keep the cameras clean.

0:19:470:19:49

If you've got remote cameras,

0:19:490:19:50

they may even require batteries that need changing.

0:19:500:19:53

When positioning your CCTV cameras,

0:19:530:19:55

it's always important to do a trial run.

0:19:550:19:57

Have a look at the footage that you capture and is it what you want?

0:19:570:20:01

Just by having some CCTV cameras and some signage up around your

0:20:010:20:05

property, could be enough of a deterrent for a potential offender

0:20:050:20:09

to actually move on from your property.

0:20:090:20:11

We're back in Greater Manchester,

0:20:200:20:21

where there's been a break-in at Gary and Carolyn's house.

0:20:210:20:25

Gary's company car and Carolyn's bank cards have been stolen,

0:20:250:20:28

just before a family holiday to Disneyland.

0:20:280:20:31

It's frightening, intruders coming into your home.

0:20:320:20:35

Yes, they've taken the car, but you're thinking,

0:20:350:20:38

"Well, what more could they have done?"

0:20:380:20:40

Our daughters were fully aware what had happened

0:20:410:20:44

and I really felt that I had to sort of stay strong and hold it together

0:20:440:20:49

for them, so I did my crying away from them.

0:20:490:20:54

The burglars had used the stolen bank cards to withdraw £500 from a

0:20:550:21:00

cashpoint and had then tried to buy expensive items from a supermarket.

0:21:000:21:05

At Greater Manchester Police,

0:21:050:21:08

Detective Sergeant Roger Smethurst spots similarities to other recent

0:21:080:21:13

break-ins and believes the same gang could be responsible.

0:21:130:21:17

At the outset, we'd started to look at each individual burglary as it

0:21:170:21:21

was reported and see what clues we could pick up through it.

0:21:210:21:24

And we found that, A, there were jobs that were happening overnight.

0:21:240:21:28

B, the similarity was that there were cars were being stolen

0:21:280:21:30

and also we were a similarity in the MO,

0:21:300:21:33

in that we were getting windows smashed at a ground floor level,

0:21:330:21:36

usually with items that had been left within the victim's garden.

0:21:360:21:40

It led us to believe that it was the same people who were committing

0:21:400:21:43

these offences.

0:21:430:21:44

Roger and his team examined footage from roadside surveillance

0:21:440:21:48

cameras and find that after they are stolen,

0:21:480:21:51

the cars are always driven to the same area of Greater Manchester.

0:21:510:21:55

The footage also gives them another clue.

0:21:550:21:57

It became apparent that every time we saw a stolen car go through

0:21:570:22:01

a camera, we were also seeing a hire car go through the camera.

0:22:010:22:05

Roger believes that the thieves are using hire cars

0:22:050:22:08

to get to each burglary.

0:22:080:22:10

I think the hirer of the vehicle was working on the theory that by

0:22:100:22:13

changing cars regularly, the police wouldn't be able to catch up

0:22:130:22:17

with him and wouldn't realise that he was actually involved.

0:22:170:22:21

But one of those hire cars is about to give the burglars away.

0:22:210:22:25

12 hours after Carolyn and Gary's break-in,

0:22:250:22:28

officers in an unmarked police car notice a hired vehicle that raises

0:22:280:22:33

an alert.

0:22:330:22:34

We've got officers deployed whose job is seeking stolen cars,

0:22:340:22:38

when they spotted one of these hire vehicles.

0:22:380:22:41

The hire car is the black one waiting at the lights

0:22:410:22:44

in front of the red car.

0:22:440:22:45

It's been flagged up by the Police National Computer because the man

0:22:450:22:49

who's hired this car is one of their suspects.

0:22:490:22:52

In hiring the cars, obviously you're expected to provide identification,

0:22:530:22:58

all the hire car companies have CCTV in place.

0:22:580:23:01

The car was hired by this man.

0:23:020:23:04

Previous vehicles that he's hired have been seen alongside stolen cars

0:23:040:23:08

on numerous occasions.

0:23:080:23:10

Police think he could be involved in this series of burglaries.

0:23:100:23:13

So the officers stay on his tail.

0:23:150:23:17

As they went to stop it, they then noticed the red BMW.

0:23:190:23:23

This BMW seems to be following the hired vehicle.

0:23:230:23:26

It's the same make and model as Gary's car that had been stolen

0:23:260:23:30

overnight from outside his house.

0:23:300:23:32

The officers did a bit more research

0:23:330:23:34

and realised it was on false number plates.

0:23:340:23:37

As a result, the officers then decided

0:23:400:23:42

that they would then try and stop the BMW instead.

0:23:420:23:44

The officers need to wait until it's safe to bring it to a halt.

0:23:470:23:51

The police officer, he's got to consider the weather,

0:23:510:23:54

the volume of traffic,

0:23:540:23:55

the frequency of pedestrians and other members of the public,

0:23:550:23:59

but, ultimately, if it's come from a burglary,

0:23:590:24:02

it's a serious crime and something that the public would expect us

0:24:020:24:06

to do something about.

0:24:060:24:07

But the suspects must realise they're being followed.

0:24:070:24:10

They suddenly accelerate and the cars split up and speed off in

0:24:100:24:13

different directions.

0:24:130:24:15

The BMW is reaching dangerous speeds.

0:24:220:24:25

The officers have to continually weigh up the risks

0:24:250:24:27

of trying to stop him.

0:24:270:24:28

The suspect starts going through red lights and driving on the wrong side

0:24:350:24:39

of the road.

0:24:390:24:41

These people are prepared to go to any length

0:24:420:24:45

in order to remain at large.

0:24:450:24:47

The BMW has been reaching speeds of around 70mph.

0:24:470:24:51

While the driver sprints away,

0:25:030:25:05

this camera in another police car films officers trying to apprehend

0:25:050:25:09

-his passenger.

-Do it, do it, get the door.

-Stay there!

0:25:090:25:12

His passenger is going nowhere.

0:25:150:25:18

Now, officers go to look for the driver.

0:25:190:25:21

He was found and he was arrested.

0:25:230:25:25

Back at the scene of the crash, paramedics are called to tend to

0:25:270:25:31

the shocked occupants of the people carrier hit by the stolen car.

0:25:310:25:34

Thankfully, none of them suffered

0:25:360:25:37

any serious injuries as a result of the collision

0:25:370:25:40

and shock was really the main thing that everybody suffered from.

0:25:400:25:43

The two men in the BMW

0:25:430:25:45

are taken to a police station for questioning.

0:25:450:25:48

The man in the hire car is still at large, but not for long.

0:25:480:25:51

Officers find him back at his house and they arrest him, too.

0:25:520:25:55

Interestingly, when we examined the phone of the hire car driver,

0:25:580:26:02

he also had some footage on there of other burglaries

0:26:020:26:05

and other stolen cars.

0:26:050:26:07

The police find other incriminating evidence, too.

0:26:070:26:10

The real number plates of the BMW are inside the stolen car.

0:26:110:26:15

A piece of paper is found at the hire car driver's house

0:26:160:26:20

with the same registration written on it.

0:26:200:26:22

CCTV from the supermarket shows

0:26:230:26:25

he was one of the men trying to buy goods with Carolyn's bank cards.

0:26:250:26:29

And CCTV from the hire car company clearly shows his face

0:26:310:26:35

as he picks up the vehicle.

0:26:350:26:37

His involvement turns out to be the main link between the crimes.

0:26:370:26:41

Over a period of time, we were able to establish that this male had been

0:26:410:26:44

involved in up to ten other burglaries, and that's ten other

0:26:440:26:48

members of the public who have been distressed and upset.

0:26:480:26:52

Roger and his team are able to build a watertight case

0:26:520:26:56

against the burglars.

0:26:560:26:58

In court, the driver of the hire car was sentenced to

0:27:000:27:04

five years and eight months in prison

0:27:040:27:06

for conspiracy to commit burglary.

0:27:060:27:08

The thief in the BMW was sentenced to just under three years.

0:27:110:27:15

There wasn't enough evidence to convict the man in the passenger

0:27:200:27:23

seat, but Roger still has good news for the victims of the two burglars.

0:27:230:27:29

It's so rewarding to be able to go back to those ten people and say,

0:27:290:27:32

"We've caught the person

0:27:320:27:33

"who's responsible for breaking into your house.

0:27:330:27:36

"There're in prison and you can now sleep safely in your beds".

0:27:360:27:39

That made me feel a little bit more safer,

0:27:390:27:42

knowing that they were behind bars.

0:27:420:27:44

And the family did manage to go on their trip to Disneyland.

0:27:440:27:48

The company did have a spare vehicle,

0:27:480:27:50

so we were able to go on the holiday.

0:27:500:27:53

The bank replaced the money that was stolen out of the accounts.

0:27:530:27:56

The girls loved Disney, and we did.

0:27:560:27:59

You know, we were looking forward to this trip.

0:27:590:28:01

It was fantastic, to be honest,

0:28:010:28:03

which was just what the doctor ordered after what we went through.

0:28:030:28:06

That's it for today, and that's it for a few more criminals

0:28:130:28:16

who have been caught red-handed.

0:28:160:28:18

Featuring a ram raid by a pair of bickering burglars, and a cheeky thief who helps himself to two hanging baskets - but the flowers aren't the only things coming down, so are his trousers!


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