Episode 15 Caught Red Handed


Episode 15

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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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 are fighting crime

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with their own tricks and traps.

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It is 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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And I was so happy! Thank God!

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So anyone who is up to no good had better think twice,

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they might just get Caught Red Handed.

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Today...

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Just a few days after Sylvia has had to cope with the funeral

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of her beloved husband, Tony,

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her peace of mind is further shattered

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when a burglar makes off with her valuables,

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in the bag which had contained her husband's ashes.

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I would have thought even a thief would have felt some remorse.

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He must have realised that whoever lived there was grieving.

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He was quite prepared to remove the ashes

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and use the bag to take away the stolen goods.

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But this burglar may come to share Sylvia's view,

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that her husband's spirit is watching over that bag

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and over Sylvia, too.

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Also today...

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Printing business owner Kevin cannot believe it

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when he discovers an intruder has crept in

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and stolen valuable equipment from right under his nose.

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It was brazen. It's daylight robbery.

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They were just metres away, really. I felt sick.

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But Kevin doesn't get mad, he gets printing.

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This slippery customer is about to become the poster boy

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in a catch-a-thief campaign.

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Also later...

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Proving there is no art in thievery,

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this chap struggles to steal a portrait that is bigger than he is.

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But he has been framed himself,

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and he has missed the best picture of all -

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the one this camera is taking of him.

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There is no such thing as sentimental value to a burglar.

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They see people's cherished belongings, like jewellery,

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medals and ornaments, purely as pounds and pence.

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But to their unlucky victims, the loss can be heartbreaking.

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On the outskirts of Doncaster in South Yorkshire,

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Sylvia lives in her bungalow.

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She came to the area with her husband, Tony, in 2014.

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But sadly, three years later, after suffering a series of illnesses,

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Tony passed away.

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Sylvia and Tony met in 1976.

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I needed to find a little bit of extra money,

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so I had been offered a job doing a bit of bar-maiding on a night

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and I met Tony, because he came into the pub.

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He was a really pleasant person and it just progressed from there.

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We just could not imagine life without each other.

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Tony worked in the prison service, but after he retired,

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his health started to deteriorate rapidly.

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He fought heart disease and cancer for over a decade

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and defied the odds until he reached the age of 79.

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In the end, they actually told him...

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..we can't do any more for you.

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And you know what he did?

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He shook the doctor's hand and said, "Thank you, Doctor."

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He died at home and it was very peaceful in the end.

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Sylvia and her daughters made sure Tony got the wonderful send-off he deserved.

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We said, we want everybody to laugh.

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We are going to celebrate his life,

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because he had a big life and he had lots of people in it.

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And it was absolutely fantastic.

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Sylvia collected Tony's ashes a few days after the service

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and took them home.

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She decided to keep them in a bag by her bed

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until she could build a memorial to him in the garden.

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It's like having Tony back home again.

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So, every night, I used to take him out of the bag.

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I used to put him on the bedside table, at his side of the bed,

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and I'd have a right chat to him.

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People think you shouldn't be talking to a dead person,

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but it helps you to get over the initial stage

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of losing your partner.

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But just a week after bringing Tony's ashes home,

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Sylvia faces further heartbreak, when a burglar targets her bungalow.

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What he takes, and the way he takes it, adds greatly to her grief.

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It is a Sunday afternoon in the summer

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and Sylvia is arriving home after visiting an Open Gardens event,

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looking for ideas for Tony's memorial.

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I came in and I thought, I'll take my shoes and coat off.

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She goes to her bedroom.

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As I opened the bedroom door, the first thing that hit me was,

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how cold it was.

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It was like opening the door to a freezer.

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And I looked and I thought, "Where's my window?"

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And I also saw, on the floor, was a jewellery box

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and I just thought, "I've been burgled!"

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It was quite... I don't know.

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Somebody had invaded my home and I felt really vulnerable.

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Sylvia phones 999 and walks to a neighbour's house to wait for the police to arrive.

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This police officer came and she said, "Right", she said,

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"I'll go with you, we'll have a look in the bedroom

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"and if you can just explain to me what you think has happened."

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And as I walked in, I went, "Oh...

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"..is my husband's wallet still there?"

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There was about £400 in it.

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And she said, "Which drawer?" And I said, "The middle one."

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And she opened it.

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And she had a look, she said, "There's no wallet in here."

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That was the worst thing, really,

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because that wallet had been Tony's wallet for years.

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Some of Sylvia's jewellery has also been stolen.

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Then I remembered I had the cameras.

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And I said to them, "I've also got CCTV cameras."

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Tony had arranged for high-spec security cameras to be installed

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when they first moved in.

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Sylvia and the police officers view the recorded footage.

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We just sat watching it.

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And it was like...

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He just took his time. Sunday afternoon.

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Broad daylight.

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Sylvia is horrified as she watches the man approach her bungalow

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and casually walk up the drive to her front door.

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He stood there and he rang my doorbell and I just thought,

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"What would have happened if Tony had still been alive

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"and he had been in bed poorly, while I had gone out?"

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You know, it just didn't bear thinking about.

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The man prowls around the bungalow.

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He was just pretending to be a normal person,

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going for a walk on the footpath.

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But he is obviously sussing out

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how he is going to come into the property.

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The intruder next appears in the back garden

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and begins pulling out Sylvia's hosepipe.

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She asks the police officers what they think he is up to.

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They said, "Well, if anybody had confronted him,

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"maybe seen him or heard him on your property,

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"his excuse would have been,

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"'I'm actually watering the plants for them while they're out.'"

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The man walks over to one of the rear windows near the shed.

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I had locked all my windows, locked all my doors.

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He has no tools with him he can use to break in,

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so the man levers open the shed door to see what he can find.

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It is like he comes to your house to burgle you

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equipped with nothing but a pair of rubber gloves.

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The man tries a number of tools to open a window.

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But it proves too difficult.

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So, he goes to another window, which is just out of the camera's view.

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The man still can't break in, so he gets different tools from the shed.

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His actions are shielded from passer-bys on the footpath

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by the tall fence.

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And it just amazes me that there's people walk up and down that path all the time,

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and he doesn't seem to rush.

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Out of view, the man finally breaks through a window

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and steals a selection of Sylvia's valuables.

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When he emerges, she is shocked to see what he is using

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to carry the stolen goods.

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I saw the bag and straightaway, I said,

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"That's the bag my husband's ashes was in."

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The man callously removed the clearly-labelled box

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containing Tony's ashes, so he could use the bag.

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Terrible. The thought that he had actually handled Tony's ashes.

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I would have thought even a thief would have felt some remorse.

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He must have realised that whoever lived there was grieving.

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He was quite prepared to remove the ashes

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and use the bag to take away the stolen goods.

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The burglar leaves by leaping over the fence.

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And no-one is any the wiser.

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Or so he thinks.

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Later...

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The bag that had held Tony's ashes becomes a key piece of evidence.

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Thanks to police technology and, Sylvia believes,

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some special extra help.

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I just thought to myself, "You did it, Tony.

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"He was violating you by moving your ashes,

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"but you was going to get him."

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Now, here's a really blatant bit of daylight thievery.

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This man enters a restaurant, but he is not here to take away food.

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For some reason, he wants to get his hands on this large wall portrait.

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Checking no staff are watching,

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he tries to wrench the artwork off the wall.

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But he can't seem to lift it.

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That is because this 3-D artwork weighs around 30kg,

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that's just under 5st.

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But the thief doesn't let this hang-up get in his way.

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He tries again and this time he manages to get it out the door.

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But he doesn't get far.

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Outside, the weighty work of art proves too much for him

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and he has to dump it in nearby bushes.

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What's more, the picture-perfect CCTV images of this artless thief

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had put him well and truly in the frame.

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He is currently being displayed in the police rogues' gallery.

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And although he failed to enjoy the work of this particular artist,

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pretty soon he'll be receiving a constable instead.

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This burglar casually strolls in through the back door

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of a printing business.

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While staff work a few feet away,

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he helps himself to expensive equipment.

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He is an habitual thief.

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But he's made a big mistake picking on a printers.

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They have ways of making sure his face is seen all over town.

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In the city of Southampton,

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Kevin owns a professional printing business.

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He has been in this line of work all his life,

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after the mighty metal printing presses of the past

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made an early impression on him.

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I started printing when I was 18 and I just love print,

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print is in my blood.

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When I first started, it was letterpress,

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so you put metal blocks into the machines, printed onto paper.

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But nowadays, it is more digital, faster turnaround,

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so you can do things the same day.

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It is always changing.

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Kevin opened this printing shop 14 years ago.

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We are totally independent, it's just the one branch,

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and we have just grown it since.

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We print everything from business cards, we do brochures,

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we do flyers for local events

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and they rely on us to give them a really good service.

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But Kevin's print shop is about to get a visit from a barefaced thief,

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whose actions threaten to stop the press.

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It is first thing in the morning on a summer weekday.

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Kevin and his staff are opening up.

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The office is at the back of the shop, went through,

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I put my laptop on my desk, like I normally do, and the work starts.

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By the afternoon, the staff are busy printing customers' orders.

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As it is a hot day, the temperature inside the office is sweltering.

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The machines that we use, they get very hot,

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so we need to keep it fairly cool, if we can.

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So we had the door open at the back

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and we had a fan blowing the air back through

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and it was causing a nice breeze.

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But an unwanted visitor is about to breeze in through that door.

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The shop has a camera covering the rear of the store and the office.

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Just out of shot to the left, staff are busy serving customers,

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when this intruder enters through the back door, bold as brass.

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He carefully steps over the fan...

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..and then leans into Kevin's office,

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where he starts searching through a bag.

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While he rummages around,

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he keeps an eye on the front of the store to check no-one is coming.

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After nearly a minute, he has found nothing.

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So, the shameless thief gets even bolder and steps inside the office.

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He comes out with a laptop in his right hand...

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..and a camera in his left.

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After checking again that nobody is coming from the front of the shop,

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this blatant burglar hurdles over the fan

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and escapes through the back door into the street beyond.

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Two hours later, it is closing time and Kevin is getting ready to leave.

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I went to put my laptop into my bag, it wasn't there.

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Couldn't find it anywhere.

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You just know, it's gone.

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Kevin checks the day's footage recorded by the shop's cameras.

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He can't believe his eyes.

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I was shocked that somebody would just brazenly walk in,

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pick it up and go!

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It's daylight robbery.

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I felt sick. We were talking to our customers at the counter,

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just metres away.

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Kevin's employee, Agatha, was one of the staff working that day.

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We were just shocked how casual this guy was about the whole thing

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and had the courage to just come in when we were here.

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I wouldn't want to confront him myself,

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because you don't know what his reaction would be.

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Kevin is appalled when he sees the outrageous way

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the thief just wandered in and made off with his expensive laptop and camera.

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The camera was worth about £800 and the laptop was £1,700.

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We've never had anybody come through the back door until now.

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We assumed it was safe.

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Kevin calls the police and then his insurance company,

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who give him bad news.

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I found out it wasn't covered because there was no forced entry.

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Because the door was open, they wouldn't pay out.

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Kevin can print most things, but not money,

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so he's £2,500 worse off.

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What is even more worrying,

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the laptop and camera the thief stole

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both contained customers' artwork,

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which could have been disastrous for the company.

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Although we had backed it up, it's just time to get all that back.

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It was just a nightmare.

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The police forensic team arrives.

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But sadly, this thief has left no prints at the printers.

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They just basically said,

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"There is not a lot we can do to get anybody,

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"but we'll put all the footage and all that on social media,"

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which is what they done.

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So, Kevin decides to go after this cheeky criminal

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the old-fashioned way.

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He does what he knows best and gets printing.

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Soon, wanted posters with the thief's mugshot

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are flying off the presses.

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His face on there, as clear as day,

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we done it because we wanted to get him caught.

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We put posters up, all the way through Southampton, everywhere,

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everywhere we could think of.

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The posters have the police's e-mail address

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for people to contact with information.

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But soon, it seems somebody is not keen on the extra attention.

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After I put them up, they were ripped down.

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But this rip-off doesn't work.

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The publicity and police investigation pay off

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when the thief is identified and arrested.

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It turns out this overt offender is responsible for a series of crimes

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all over Southampton.

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Kevin and his printing press have helped put a stop

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to this prolific thief.

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I was pleased that he was no longer hanging around,

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he was in custody and he was off the streets.

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And Southampton's businesses can rest a little easier,

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knowing this serial offender won't be sneaking up on them

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for quite some time.

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In court, the 44-year-old man pleaded guilty to nine offences,

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including burglary, theft and fraud.

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He was given two years and eight months in prison.

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In the time since the burglary, the shop security has been upgraded.

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From now on, we are just keeping the doors closed, even when it is hot!

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We've got alarms on the doors, so if the doors are opened, it goes off.

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Kevin hasn't let this bad experience stop him looking to the future.

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I love printing and I will probably carry on for the rest of my life.

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We would like to expand the company, watch this space.

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We saw there how even if someone is a victim of crime,

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their insurance company might not reimburse them

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if, for some reason, they are not covered.

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So what can people do to avoid being left out of pocket?

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You have a duty, as a householder, to take reasonable steps

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to secure property.

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Insurance companies won't necessarily pay out

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if you leave your home unlocked,

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if you've asked for an alarm to be a discount on your insurance premium

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and you don't set it.

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Many policies have a limit for the maximum they will pay out

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for an individual item.

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It may be that you have laptops, cameras, computers,

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televisions, etc...

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which are worth more than that limit.

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If you do have high-value items within your home address,

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I think it is very important you consider investing in a safe.

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Some items might not be covered if you take them out of your home,

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for instance, a laptop or certain items of jewellery,

0:19:070:19:10

so just make sure you know what's on the small print.

0:19:100:19:12

Write an inventory down, list down all of those valuable items,

0:19:120:19:16

where you bought them from, what the cost was,

0:19:160:19:18

so that you're able to tell the police

0:19:180:19:20

and also tell your insurance company what has been taken.

0:19:200:19:22

That will - one - help us catch people quicker,

0:19:220:19:24

recover your property and also allow you to make an insurance claim

0:19:240:19:27

a lot easier.

0:19:270:19:29

Crime is, of course, never a laughing matter.

0:19:370:19:39

But this chap could have a future as a stand-up comic,

0:19:390:19:42

if only he could stand up.

0:19:420:19:44

He arrives at a convenience store and lurks in the doorway,

0:19:440:19:47

clearly worse for wear and rather unsteady on his feet.

0:19:470:19:51

Crouching down so he can't be seen,

0:19:550:19:57

he gets a packet of loo roll to block the automatic door,

0:19:570:20:00

because he's spotted something he wants to steal.

0:20:000:20:03

Surprisingly, it is not booze and it is not cigarettes.

0:20:050:20:08

Believe it or not, this spaced out shoplifter...

0:20:080:20:11

..is after a children's comic.

0:20:110:20:13

And a minute later,

0:20:150:20:16

this cartoon criminal comes back to steal some more, with his

0:20:160:20:20

chimpanzee-grabs-a-banana approach.

0:20:200:20:23

A grown man reading kids' comics?!

0:20:290:20:32

Maybe this super villain wishes he were a superhero!

0:20:320:20:36

And soon he is back again, crawling into the shop like Spider-Man.

0:20:370:20:42

But his arch enemy, Cashier Man, suddenly appears,

0:20:420:20:45

so he transforms into Mr Freeze and then reaches for one last comic,

0:20:450:20:50

before getting battered away.

0:20:500:20:52

The next day, the shop owner puts this footage online

0:20:560:20:59

to shame the comic crook and it is viewed thousands of times.

0:20:590:21:03

Although police are yet to catch up with the thief...

0:21:030:21:06

..the fact everybody is laughing at him means he is probably in

0:21:070:21:10

an Incredible Sulk somewhere, wishing he was the Invisible Man.

0:21:100:21:14

We are back in the outskirts of Doncaster,

0:21:250:21:27

where Sylvia's bungalow has just been burgled,

0:21:270:21:30

less than a fortnight after her husband Tony's funeral.

0:21:300:21:33

The thief took valuables worth hundreds of pounds.

0:21:330:21:37

He removed a box containing Tony's ashes

0:21:370:21:40

from the bag he used to carry his haul.

0:21:400:21:42

My daughter, she came down, and by the time the police went,

0:21:420:21:46

it was quite late at night and she said to me,

0:21:460:21:48

"Do you want to come back to our house?"

0:21:480:21:50

And I said, "No, because I will never sleep here again if I do.

0:21:500:21:54

"I've got to be here, I've got to face it."

0:21:540:21:56

Sylvia finds strength in her late husband's words.

0:21:560:22:00

When Tony was alive, he used to say to me,

0:22:000:22:02

"You know what's going to happen. I know what's going to happen.

0:22:020:22:06

"But you're the one who has got to be brave.

0:22:060:22:09

"You've got to be."

0:22:090:22:10

And every time something really tough happens,

0:22:110:22:14

I always remember them words, "I've got to be brave."

0:22:140:22:17

And I'll say to him, "I weren't very brave today,

0:22:170:22:19

"because I had a bit of a breakdown."

0:22:190:22:22

I feel as though he's still there

0:22:220:22:24

and if that is what has been given to me to help me to cope, then,

0:22:240:22:27

yeah, it's helping me.

0:22:270:22:29

Police Constable Richard Glover is working on the case.

0:22:310:22:34

He knows the effect a burglary can have on a victim.

0:22:340:22:37

It is an invasion of your personal space.

0:22:380:22:40

Your home is where you feel safe, you feel secure,

0:22:400:22:43

you build your memories, you've got your family.

0:22:430:22:45

And to have somebody walk into your house,

0:22:450:22:47

go through all your personal property,

0:22:470:22:49

it is not monetary possessions, it is sentimental possessions.

0:22:490:22:52

And to touch them or take them...

0:22:520:22:55

it can tear your life apart.

0:22:550:22:57

I met Sylvia. She was putting on a very brave face,

0:22:570:23:00

but you could still see it was a very traumatic experience to go through.

0:23:000:23:04

Richard is determined to track down the thief.

0:23:040:23:06

And the recording from Sylvia's security cameras

0:23:080:23:10

looked to have given his investigation a flying start.

0:23:100:23:14

CCTV can be absolutely vital.

0:23:140:23:16

When it is of such quality that Sylvia had,

0:23:160:23:18

you look at it and you think, "Yeah, we stand a good chance here."

0:23:180:23:21

Somebody, somewhere, would be able to name that person.

0:23:210:23:24

The CCTV clearly showed the burglar taking the red bag

0:23:240:23:28

Sylvia had been using to keep the container

0:23:280:23:31

of her late husband's ashes.

0:23:310:23:33

I believe it affected Sylvia quite deeply

0:23:330:23:35

that somebody had touched something so personal to her

0:23:350:23:38

and so raw, at the time, to her.

0:23:380:23:40

She identified that bag, so during the area search,

0:23:400:23:43

they already knew what items they were looking out for

0:23:430:23:47

and a short distance away, this red bag was found,

0:23:470:23:49

and it was so distinctive,

0:23:490:23:51

it was quite obvious that it was linked to Sylvia's home address.

0:23:510:23:54

The bag is sent to a forensic lab

0:23:540:23:56

to be examined for finger prints and DNA.

0:23:560:23:59

That process to get that work done does take a number of weeks,

0:24:000:24:04

but in the back of my mind, it was always there,

0:24:040:24:06

are we going to get something from this bag?

0:24:060:24:08

Because that would be, more or less, gold dust for us.

0:24:080:24:12

Richard circulates still images of the burglar

0:24:120:24:14

around the South Yorkshire force, to see if an officer can identify him.

0:24:140:24:18

Within two days, a name had been put forward for that offender.

0:24:200:24:25

Sylvia's good-quality footage has paid off.

0:24:250:24:28

They now have the name of a prime suspect.

0:24:280:24:31

Richard issues an arrest warrant.

0:24:310:24:33

Within literally a matter of hours,

0:24:330:24:35

the Offender Management Team had picked up this suspect

0:24:350:24:39

walking through the town centre.

0:24:390:24:41

The suspect is brought to the station.

0:24:420:24:44

Richard interviews him and shows him Sylvia's CCTV footage.

0:24:440:24:48

Throughout the interview, the suspect said, "That's not me,

0:24:490:24:53

"it's not me."

0:24:530:24:54

Richard is going to have his work cut out proving the man's guilt.

0:24:540:24:58

You know that person there is that person on that footage,

0:24:580:25:01

you ask him to account for it and they're not accounting,

0:25:010:25:03

so you have to think, "Am I missing a trick here?

0:25:030:25:06

"Am I missing something?"

0:25:060:25:07

But you have to be resolute that you are right.

0:25:070:25:09

I had to look at other ways of where I can get the evidence to show,

0:25:090:25:13

especially to a jury, that this is this person.

0:25:130:25:17

Realising Sylvia's burglar might walk away scot-free,

0:25:170:25:21

Richard decides to enlist the hi-tech help

0:25:210:25:23

of the force's facial imaging unit.

0:25:230:25:26

We take images that we have from the scene, Sylvia's footage,

0:25:260:25:30

and took images of the offender himself in our custody suite,

0:25:300:25:34

to show the comparisons of the faces of that person.

0:25:340:25:37

The facial expert's verdict bolsters Richard's case.

0:25:370:25:40

The person on the CCTV footage, the person in custody,

0:25:420:25:45

is one and the same person.

0:25:450:25:47

But the suspect continues to deny the crime.

0:25:480:25:51

It looks like the case will have to go to trial by jury,

0:25:510:25:54

an ordeal for Sylvia that Richard is desperate to avoid.

0:25:540:25:57

Then, just a day before a pre-trial hearing...

0:25:590:26:02

Richard receives an e-mail from the forensic lab about the red bag.

0:26:020:26:06

The results say, "We've got fingerprints of the suspect.

0:26:070:26:11

"The suspect is named on this bag"

0:26:110:26:14

and that does give you a right good feeling.

0:26:140:26:17

Richard calls the prosecutors at the court

0:26:180:26:21

and they let the suspect know about the new evidence against him.

0:26:210:26:24

He finally accepts his fate.

0:26:240:26:27

It was a relief at the pre-trial hearing

0:26:280:26:31

that the suspect pleaded guilty

0:26:310:26:33

and that we got closure for Sylvia,

0:26:330:26:35

who is a victim of what is a very traumatic crime.

0:26:350:26:38

Richard phones Sylvia to tell her the man has pleaded guilty

0:26:380:26:42

and that it was the bag that contained Tony's ashes

0:26:420:26:45

that provided a key piece of evidence.

0:26:450:26:48

I just thought to myself, "You did it, Tony."

0:26:480:26:51

You know, "You did it.

0:26:510:26:52

"You was in there, he was violating our home,

0:26:520:26:55

"he was violating you by moving your ashes, but you was going to get him.

0:26:550:26:59

"And then you did, because, you know,

0:26:590:27:01

"your bag was the evidence that he had been in the property."

0:27:010:27:05

And I always say that Tony caught him.

0:27:050:27:08

In court, the thief was sentenced to six years in prison,

0:27:110:27:15

because he is a repeat offender.

0:27:150:27:17

Richard is pleased the burglar has been put away for such a long time.

0:27:210:27:26

It gives me a good feeling that I've helped Sylvia get closure

0:27:260:27:28

and that we're preventing other people from becoming victims as well.

0:27:280:27:31

Sylvia has now got over the burglary and is moving forward

0:27:310:27:35

with her plans to build a memorial garden that Tony would be proud of.

0:27:350:27:40

Tony was an outdoor person and because we both liked being out there,

0:27:400:27:44

that was the best place for me to connect with him.

0:27:440:27:48

I think he guides me, and until it is doubted to me,

0:27:480:27:51

I will still carry on believing.

0:27:510:27:53

And I think he is there and that he will always be there,

0:27:540:27:56

watching over me.

0:27:560:27:57

That is all for today.

0:28:010:28:03

You have seen just a few of the thousands of criminals

0:28:030:28:05

who are captured on camera every year.

0:28:050:28:08

Join us next time to see more villains

0:28:080:28:10

who have been caught red-handed.

0:28:100:28:12

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.


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