Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A slippery burglar becomes the poster boy in a catch-a-thief campaign.
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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.
We want to make sure we've got a concrete case.
Enough evidence to convict at court.
Local councils, shops and businesses are fighting crime
with their own tricks and traps.
It is just unbelievable that she thinks she can get away with this.
And the public are using secret cameras...
to make sure the crooks get their comeuppance.
Fair means or foul, I was going to get rid of him.
I thought, "We've got her!"
And I was so happy! Thank God!
So anyone who is up to no good had better think twice,
they might just get Caught Red Handed.
Just a few days after Sylvia has had to cope with the funeral
of her beloved husband, Tony,
her peace of mind is further shattered
when a burglar makes off with her valuables,
in the bag which had contained her husband's ashes.
I would have thought even a thief would have felt some remorse.
He must have realised that whoever lived there was grieving.
He was quite prepared to remove the ashes
and use the bag to take away the stolen goods.
But this burglar may come to share Sylvia's view,
that her husband's spirit is watching over that bag
and over Sylvia, too.
Printing business owner Kevin cannot believe it
when he discovers an intruder has crept in
and stolen valuable equipment from right under his nose.
It was brazen. It's daylight robbery.
They were just metres away, really. I felt sick.
But Kevin doesn't get mad, he gets printing.
This slippery customer is about to become the poster boy
in a catch-a-thief campaign.
Proving there is no art in thievery,
this chap struggles to steal a portrait that is bigger than he is.
But he has been framed himself,
and he has missed the best picture of all -
the one this camera is taking of him.
There is no such thing as sentimental value to a burglar.
They see people's cherished belongings, like jewellery,
medals and ornaments, purely as pounds and pence.
But to their unlucky victims, the loss can be heartbreaking.
On the outskirts of Doncaster in South Yorkshire,
Sylvia lives in her bungalow.
She came to the area with her husband, Tony, in 2014.
But sadly, three years later, after suffering a series of illnesses,
Tony passed away.
Sylvia and Tony met in 1976.
I needed to find a little bit of extra money,
so I had been offered a job doing a bit of bar-maiding on a night
and I met Tony, because he came into the pub.
He was a really pleasant person and it just progressed from there.
We just could not imagine life without each other.
Tony worked in the prison service, but after he retired,
his health started to deteriorate rapidly.
He fought heart disease and cancer for over a decade
and defied the odds until he reached the age of 79.
In the end, they actually told him...
..we can't do any more for you.
And you know what he did?
He shook the doctor's hand and said, "Thank you, Doctor."
He died at home and it was very peaceful in the end.
Sylvia and her daughters made sure Tony got the wonderful send-off he deserved.
We said, we want everybody to laugh.
We are going to celebrate his life,
because he had a big life and he had lots of people in it.
And it was absolutely fantastic.
Sylvia collected Tony's ashes a few days after the service
and took them home.
She decided to keep them in a bag by her bed
until she could build a memorial to him in the garden.
It's like having Tony back home again.
So, every night, I used to take him out of the bag.
I used to put him on the bedside table, at his side of the bed,
and I'd have a right chat to him.
People think you shouldn't be talking to a dead person,
but it helps you to get over the initial stage
of losing your partner.
But just a week after bringing Tony's ashes home,
Sylvia faces further heartbreak, when a burglar targets her bungalow.
What he takes, and the way he takes it, adds greatly to her grief.
It is a Sunday afternoon in the summer
and Sylvia is arriving home after visiting an Open Gardens event,
looking for ideas for Tony's memorial.
I came in and I thought, I'll take my shoes and coat off.
She goes to her bedroom.
As I opened the bedroom door, the first thing that hit me was,
how cold it was.
It was like opening the door to a freezer.
And I looked and I thought, "Where's my window?"
And I also saw, on the floor, was a jewellery box
and I just thought, "I've been burgled!"
It was quite... I don't know.
Somebody had invaded my home and I felt really vulnerable.
Sylvia phones 999 and walks to a neighbour's house to wait for the police to arrive.
This police officer came and she said, "Right", she said,
"I'll go with you, we'll have a look in the bedroom
"and if you can just explain to me what you think has happened."
And as I walked in, I went, "Oh...
"..is my husband's wallet still there?"
There was about £400 in it.
And she said, "Which drawer?" And I said, "The middle one."
And she opened it.
And she had a look, she said, "There's no wallet in here."
That was the worst thing, really,
because that wallet had been Tony's wallet for years.
Some of Sylvia's jewellery has also been stolen.
Then I remembered I had the cameras.
And I said to them, "I've also got CCTV cameras."
Tony had arranged for high-spec security cameras to be installed
when they first moved in.
Sylvia and the police officers view the recorded footage.
We just sat watching it.
And it was like...
He just took his time. Sunday afternoon.
Sylvia is horrified as she watches the man approach her bungalow
and casually walk up the drive to her front door.
He stood there and he rang my doorbell and I just thought,
"What would have happened if Tony had still been alive
"and he had been in bed poorly, while I had gone out?"
You know, it just didn't bear thinking about.
The man prowls around the bungalow.
He was just pretending to be a normal person,
going for a walk on the footpath.
But he is obviously sussing out
how he is going to come into the property.
The intruder next appears in the back garden
and begins pulling out Sylvia's hosepipe.
She asks the police officers what they think he is up to.
They said, "Well, if anybody had confronted him,
"maybe seen him or heard him on your property,
"his excuse would have been,
"'I'm actually watering the plants for them while they're out.'"
The man walks over to one of the rear windows near the shed.
I had locked all my windows, locked all my doors.
He has no tools with him he can use to break in,
so the man levers open the shed door to see what he can find.
It is like he comes to your house to burgle you
equipped with nothing but a pair of rubber gloves.
The man tries a number of tools to open a window.
But it proves too difficult.
So, he goes to another window, which is just out of the camera's view.
The man still can't break in, so he gets different tools from the shed.
His actions are shielded from passer-bys on the footpath
by the tall fence.
And it just amazes me that there's people walk up and down that path all the time,
and he doesn't seem to rush.
Out of view, the man finally breaks through a window
and steals a selection of Sylvia's valuables.
When he emerges, she is shocked to see what he is using
to carry the stolen goods.
I saw the bag and straightaway, I said,
"That's the bag my husband's ashes was in."
The man callously removed the clearly-labelled box
containing Tony's ashes, so he could use the bag.
Terrible. The thought that he had actually handled Tony's ashes.
I would have thought even a thief would have felt some remorse.
He must have realised that whoever lived there was grieving.
He was quite prepared to remove the ashes
and use the bag to take away the stolen goods.
The burglar leaves by leaping over the fence.
And no-one is any the wiser.
Or so he thinks.
The bag that had held Tony's ashes becomes a key piece of evidence.
Thanks to police technology and, Sylvia believes,
some special extra help.
I just thought to myself, "You did it, Tony.
"He was violating you by moving your ashes,
"but you was going to get him."
Now, here's a really blatant bit of daylight thievery.
This man enters a restaurant, but he is not here to take away food.
For some reason, he wants to get his hands on this large wall portrait.
Checking no staff are watching,
he tries to wrench the artwork off the wall.
But he can't seem to lift it.
That is because this 3-D artwork weighs around 30kg,
that's just under 5st.
But the thief doesn't let this hang-up get in his way.
He tries again and this time he manages to get it out the door.
But he doesn't get far.
Outside, the weighty work of art proves too much for him
and he has to dump it in nearby bushes.
What's more, the picture-perfect CCTV images of this artless thief
had put him well and truly in the frame.
He is currently being displayed in the police rogues' gallery.
And although he failed to enjoy the work of this particular artist,
pretty soon he'll be receiving a constable instead.
This burglar casually strolls in through the back door
of a printing business.
While staff work a few feet away,
he helps himself to expensive equipment.
He is an habitual thief.
But he's made a big mistake picking on a printers.
They have ways of making sure his face is seen all over town.
In the city of Southampton,
Kevin owns a professional printing business.
He has been in this line of work all his life,
after the mighty metal printing presses of the past
made an early impression on him.
I started printing when I was 18 and I just love print,
print is in my blood.
When I first started, it was letterpress,
so you put metal blocks into the machines, printed onto paper.
But nowadays, it is more digital, faster turnaround,
so you can do things the same day.
It is always changing.
Kevin opened this printing shop 14 years ago.
We are totally independent, it's just the one branch,
and we have just grown it since.
We print everything from business cards, we do brochures,
we do flyers for local events
and they rely on us to give them a really good service.
But Kevin's print shop is about to get a visit from a barefaced thief,
whose actions threaten to stop the press.
It is first thing in the morning on a summer weekday.
Kevin and his staff are opening up.
The office is at the back of the shop, went through,
I put my laptop on my desk, like I normally do, and the work starts.
By the afternoon, the staff are busy printing customers' orders.
As it is a hot day, the temperature inside the office is sweltering.
The machines that we use, they get very hot,
so we need to keep it fairly cool, if we can.
So we had the door open at the back
and we had a fan blowing the air back through
and it was causing a nice breeze.
But an unwanted visitor is about to breeze in through that door.
The shop has a camera covering the rear of the store and the office.
Just out of shot to the left, staff are busy serving customers,
when this intruder enters through the back door, bold as brass.
He carefully steps over the fan...
..and then leans into Kevin's office,
where he starts searching through a bag.
While he rummages around,
he keeps an eye on the front of the store to check no-one is coming.
After nearly a minute, he has found nothing.
So, the shameless thief gets even bolder and steps inside the office.
He comes out with a laptop in his right hand...
..and a camera in his left.
After checking again that nobody is coming from the front of the shop,
this blatant burglar hurdles over the fan
and escapes through the back door into the street beyond.
Two hours later, it is closing time and Kevin is getting ready to leave.
I went to put my laptop into my bag, it wasn't there.
Couldn't find it anywhere.
You just know, it's gone.
Kevin checks the day's footage recorded by the shop's cameras.
He can't believe his eyes.
I was shocked that somebody would just brazenly walk in,
pick it up and go!
It's daylight robbery.
I felt sick. We were talking to our customers at the counter,
just metres away.
Kevin's employee, Agatha, was one of the staff working that day.
We were just shocked how casual this guy was about the whole thing
and had the courage to just come in when we were here.
I wouldn't want to confront him myself,
because you don't know what his reaction would be.
Kevin is appalled when he sees the outrageous way
the thief just wandered in and made off with his expensive laptop and camera.
The camera was worth about £800 and the laptop was £1,700.
We've never had anybody come through the back door until now.
We assumed it was safe.
Kevin calls the police and then his insurance company,
who give him bad news.
I found out it wasn't covered because there was no forced entry.
Because the door was open, they wouldn't pay out.
Kevin can print most things, but not money,
so he's £2,500 worse off.
What is even more worrying,
the laptop and camera the thief stole
both contained customers' artwork,
which could have been disastrous for the company.
Although we had backed it up, it's just time to get all that back.
It was just a nightmare.
The police forensic team arrives.
But sadly, this thief has left no prints at the printers.
They just basically said,
"There is not a lot we can do to get anybody,
"but we'll put all the footage and all that on social media,"
which is what they done.
So, Kevin decides to go after this cheeky criminal
the old-fashioned way.
He does what he knows best and gets printing.
Soon, wanted posters with the thief's mugshot
are flying off the presses.
His face on there, as clear as day,
we done it because we wanted to get him caught.
We put posters up, all the way through Southampton, everywhere,
everywhere we could think of.
The posters have the police's e-mail address
for people to contact with information.
But soon, it seems somebody is not keen on the extra attention.
After I put them up, they were ripped down.
But this rip-off doesn't work.
The publicity and police investigation pay off
when the thief is identified and arrested.
It turns out this overt offender is responsible for a series of crimes
all over Southampton.
Kevin and his printing press have helped put a stop
to this prolific thief.
I was pleased that he was no longer hanging around,
he was in custody and he was off the streets.
And Southampton's businesses can rest a little easier,
knowing this serial offender won't be sneaking up on them
for quite some time.
In court, the 44-year-old man pleaded guilty to nine offences,
including burglary, theft and fraud.
He was given two years and eight months in prison.
In the time since the burglary, the shop security has been upgraded.
From now on, we are just keeping the doors closed, even when it is hot!
We've got alarms on the doors, so if the doors are opened, it goes off.
Kevin hasn't let this bad experience stop him looking to the future.
I love printing and I will probably carry on for the rest of my life.
We would like to expand the company, watch this space.
We saw there how even if someone is a victim of crime,
their insurance company might not reimburse them
if, for some reason, they are not covered.
So what can people do to avoid being left out of pocket?
You have a duty, as a householder, to take reasonable steps
to secure property.
Insurance companies won't necessarily pay out
if you leave your home unlocked,
if you've asked for an alarm to be a discount on your insurance premium
and you don't set it.
Many policies have a limit for the maximum they will pay out
for an individual item.
It may be that you have laptops, cameras, computers,
which are worth more than that limit.
If you do have high-value items within your home address,
I think it is very important you consider investing in a safe.
Some items might not be covered if you take them out of your home,
for instance, a laptop or certain items of jewellery,
so just make sure you know what's on the small print.
Write an inventory down, list down all of those valuable items,
where you bought them from, what the cost was,
so that you're able to tell the police
and also tell your insurance company what has been taken.
That will - one - help us catch people quicker,
recover your property and also allow you to make an insurance claim
a lot easier.
Crime is, of course, never a laughing matter.
But this chap could have a future as a stand-up comic,
if only he could stand up.
He arrives at a convenience store and lurks in the doorway,
clearly worse for wear and rather unsteady on his feet.
Crouching down so he can't be seen,
he gets a packet of loo roll to block the automatic door,
because he's spotted something he wants to steal.
Surprisingly, it is not booze and it is not cigarettes.
Believe it or not, this spaced out shoplifter...
..is after a children's comic.
And a minute later,
this cartoon criminal comes back to steal some more, with his
A grown man reading kids' comics?!
Maybe this super villain wishes he were a superhero!
And soon he is back again, crawling into the shop like Spider-Man.
But his arch enemy, Cashier Man, suddenly appears,
so he transforms into Mr Freeze and then reaches for one last comic,
before getting battered away.
The next day, the shop owner puts this footage online
to shame the comic crook and it is viewed thousands of times.
Although police are yet to catch up with the thief...
..the fact everybody is laughing at him means he is probably in
an Incredible Sulk somewhere, wishing he was the Invisible Man.
We are back in the outskirts of Doncaster,
where Sylvia's bungalow has just been burgled,
less than a fortnight after her husband Tony's funeral.
The thief took valuables worth hundreds of pounds.
He removed a box containing Tony's ashes
from the bag he used to carry his haul.
My daughter, she came down, and by the time the police went,
it was quite late at night and she said to me,
"Do you want to come back to our house?"
And I said, "No, because I will never sleep here again if I do.
"I've got to be here, I've got to face it."
Sylvia finds strength in her late husband's words.
When Tony was alive, he used to say to me,
"You know what's going to happen. I know what's going to happen.
"But you're the one who has got to be brave.
"You've got to be."
And every time something really tough happens,
I always remember them words, "I've got to be brave."
And I'll say to him, "I weren't very brave today,
"because I had a bit of a breakdown."
I feel as though he's still there
and if that is what has been given to me to help me to cope, then,
yeah, it's helping me.
Police Constable Richard Glover is working on the case.
He knows the effect a burglary can have on a victim.
It is an invasion of your personal space.
Your home is where you feel safe, you feel secure,
you build your memories, you've got your family.
And to have somebody walk into your house,
go through all your personal property,
it is not monetary possessions, it is sentimental possessions.
And to touch them or take them...
it can tear your life apart.
I met Sylvia. She was putting on a very brave face,
but you could still see it was a very traumatic experience to go through.
Richard is determined to track down the thief.
And the recording from Sylvia's security cameras
looked to have given his investigation a flying start.
CCTV can be absolutely vital.
When it is of such quality that Sylvia had,
you look at it and you think, "Yeah, we stand a good chance here."
Somebody, somewhere, would be able to name that person.
The CCTV clearly showed the burglar taking the red bag
Sylvia had been using to keep the container
of her late husband's ashes.
I believe it affected Sylvia quite deeply
that somebody had touched something so personal to her
and so raw, at the time, to her.
She identified that bag, so during the area search,
they already knew what items they were looking out for
and a short distance away, this red bag was found,
and it was so distinctive,
it was quite obvious that it was linked to Sylvia's home address.
The bag is sent to a forensic lab
to be examined for finger prints and DNA.
That process to get that work done does take a number of weeks,
but in the back of my mind, it was always there,
are we going to get something from this bag?
Because that would be, more or less, gold dust for us.
Richard circulates still images of the burglar
around the South Yorkshire force, to see if an officer can identify him.
Within two days, a name had been put forward for that offender.
Sylvia's good-quality footage has paid off.
They now have the name of a prime suspect.
Richard issues an arrest warrant.
Within literally a matter of hours,
the Offender Management Team had picked up this suspect
walking through the town centre.
The suspect is brought to the station.
Richard interviews him and shows him Sylvia's CCTV footage.
Throughout the interview, the suspect said, "That's not me,
"it's not me."
Richard is going to have his work cut out proving the man's guilt.
You know that person there is that person on that footage,
you ask him to account for it and they're not accounting,
so you have to think, "Am I missing a trick here?
"Am I missing something?"
But you have to be resolute that you are right.
I had to look at other ways of where I can get the evidence to show,
especially to a jury, that this is this person.
Realising Sylvia's burglar might walk away scot-free,
Richard decides to enlist the hi-tech help
of the force's facial imaging unit.
We take images that we have from the scene, Sylvia's footage,
and took images of the offender himself in our custody suite,
to show the comparisons of the faces of that person.
The facial expert's verdict bolsters Richard's case.
The person on the CCTV footage, the person in custody,
is one and the same person.
But the suspect continues to deny the crime.
It looks like the case will have to go to trial by jury,
an ordeal for Sylvia that Richard is desperate to avoid.
Then, just a day before a pre-trial hearing...
Richard receives an e-mail from the forensic lab about the red bag.
The results say, "We've got fingerprints of the suspect.
"The suspect is named on this bag"
and that does give you a right good feeling.
Richard calls the prosecutors at the court
and they let the suspect know about the new evidence against him.
He finally accepts his fate.
It was a relief at the pre-trial hearing
that the suspect pleaded guilty
and that we got closure for Sylvia,
who is a victim of what is a very traumatic crime.
Richard phones Sylvia to tell her the man has pleaded guilty
and that it was the bag that contained Tony's ashes
that provided a key piece of evidence.
I just thought to myself, "You did it, Tony."
You know, "You did it.
"You was in there, he was violating our home,
"he was violating you by moving your ashes, but you was going to get him.
"And then you did, because, you know,
"your bag was the evidence that he had been in the property."
And I always say that Tony caught him.
In court, the thief was sentenced to six years in prison,
because he is a repeat offender.
Richard is pleased the burglar has been put away for such a long time.
It gives me a good feeling that I've helped Sylvia get closure
and that we're preventing other people from becoming victims as well.
Sylvia has now got over the burglary and is moving forward
with her plans to build a memorial garden that Tony would be proud of.
Tony was an outdoor person and because we both liked being out there,
that was the best place for me to connect with him.
I think he guides me, and until it is doubted to me,
I will still carry on believing.
And I think he is there and that he will always be there,
watching over me.
That is all for today.
You have seen just a few of the thousands of criminals
who are captured on camera every year.
Join us next time to see more villains
who have been caught red-handed.
A slippery burglar becomes the poster boy in a catch-a-thief campaign, and a man struggles to steal a portrait that is bigger than he is.