Episode 16 Caught Red Handed


Episode 16

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. The police use state-of-the-art video analysis to uncover the identity of an armed robber.


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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

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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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It's just unbelievable that she thinks she can get away with it.

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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, at a bookmaker's,

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manager Mike thinks this man is just a normal customer -

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until he pulls out a gun.

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I heard the sound of a gun being cocked.

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I just sort of froze inside.

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Am I going to die?

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The robber later strikes at another bookmaker's,

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and he's becoming more violent.

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Desperate to catch such a dangerous man,

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the police use the latest technology to uncover clues to his identity.

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Also today, Julian the blacksmith chats to a man outside his yard.

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He has no idea this visitor and an accomplice

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are actually in the process of stealing from him.

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He just looked like an ordinary customer,

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didn't realise that the van that he was just stood right next to

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was full up with my stuff.

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But when Julian works out he's been hoodwinked,

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he's hot on their heels.

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Also later, two incompetent wannabe thieves

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plan to smash through the giant windowpane

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of an estate agents,

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but the window fights back, and one of them ends up feeling the pain.

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Gun crime in this country is rare,

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but for it to remain that way,

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robbers who use firearms need to be caught quickly

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and that's why the police are developing new techniques

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and technology all the time.

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In Newport, South Wales, Mike lives with his partner, Victoria,

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and their children.

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Mike works in a local bookmaker's.

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He got the job when he was 20, after a spell of unemployment.

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I'd applied for job after job after job.

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I had maybe one interview out of, say, 30 applications.

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But Mike never stopped believing in himself.

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Wandering around handing out CVs,

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people, like, getting fed up with seeing my face, month after month,

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but you've just got to keep trying.

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Then one day, he took a chance and went into a bookmaker's.

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Walked in, said "Have you any jobs going?"

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They said, "Yeah, actually. Drop your CV in,

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"and fill in an application form."

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After an interview, Mike got the job.

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Fantastic, sort of went home, like, singing.

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And the going stayed good.

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He worked his way up and was eventually promoted to manager.

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It hasn't always been plain sailing, but I still love being my own,

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running my own store, being a manager sort of thing.

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It's something I take pride in.

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But two years into the job,

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Mike has to face a terrifying and life-endangering experience.

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It's coming up to 9.30 on a Saturday evening in summer.

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The bookmaker's CCTV shows Mike is the only one on shift.

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The shop is empty, until this man walks in.

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Looked up, heard the door.

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I was like, "You all right, bud?" "Yeah, all right, mate."

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He asked me, "Am I too late to put the Irish lottery on?"

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I was like, "Yeah, mate, sorry."

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He said, "Oh, all right, can I have the results then."

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"Yeah, no problem, bud."

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While Mike looks up the results,

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the man steps away from the counter and puts his hand in his pocket.

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Because I'm focusing on the till, I'm not paying attention to him.

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As Mike hands him a printout of the results, the man pulls out a gun.

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Mike recoils in terror.

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I heard the sound of a gun being cocked, because... I still hear it now.

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Look up, see the gun. Oh, just, inside, I just went...

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I just sort of froze inside.

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I didn't even think consciously, everything was just a blur.

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The robber demands money from the till.

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Fight or flight isn't an option.

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The only option I had was do as I was told.

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I was thinking of the kids and the family. They've got to have a father.

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I need to do everything I can to make sure I can go home.

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But the till has been emptied recently,

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and there's only £80 in it.

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He's not happy with how much it is. He wants more.

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The robber orders Mike to open the safe next to him.

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Mike does so, and gives him the £400 that's in there.

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Then the gunman sees there's another safe.

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But Mike tells him it has a time delay

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and can't be opened immediately.

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He was demanding stuff I couldn't give at that time.

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What's he doing? He's never going to make enough out of this place

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for this to be even worth it. Am I going to die?

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Mike tries to stay as calm as possible.

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So I've let him know, yeah, I'll open the safe for you, mate,

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if you want, but you have to wait 15 minutes.

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You can wait if you like.

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But the robber's in too much of a hurry.

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He's now spotted a coin tray and demands Mike hand it over.

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I just stuck the tray on the side and just hands back up in the air.

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Help yourself, take the bloody tray, just leave me alone.

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The gunman eventually heads for the door,

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warning Mike not to press the alarm.

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On his way out, he pauses to wipe fingerprints off the door handle,

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before leaving the shop and a very shaken Mike.

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I was on the verge of tears,

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sort of pretty much from the moment he turned his back and walked away.

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Threw the deadlocks on the door, phoned our bosses,

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just sort of quivering and jabbering through what had happened...

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..and then loads of police turned up, like, seven or eight of them.

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After making his statement to the police, Mike goes home to Victoria.

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She just come up to me and put her arms around me,

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and I broke down in front of her.

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-EMOTIONALLY:

-Um, it wasn't easy to talk about.

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It's not easy to talk about now.

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But she was great.

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After the robbery, Mike's mental health suffers.

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For the next two weeks,

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he can't face the prospect of going back to work.

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I'm just numb inside,

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like, I love my kids but I didn't want them near me

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because I felt like I was going to be short with them,

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I felt quite snappy with people.

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Mike is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder

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and receives counselling.

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Meanwhile, the dangerous gunman who threatened him

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is still at large.

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But Detective Constable Dave Hancock of Gwent Police

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aims to put that right.

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Within Gwent, we don't have many armed robberies.

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It's a massive threat that someone is going around with a firearm,

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you know, threatening people and demanding money,

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and, you know, if we didn't catch that person,

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things would potentially escalate.

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The pressure is on,

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but even with good CCTV pictures of the robbery,

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the investigation is hampered

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by a lack of clear-cut evidence.

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Didn't have any footage from outside

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to show whether a vehicle was used in getting to the scene

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and, also, the movements of the offender after it.

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Where did he go?

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The robber also covered his face,

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making it difficult to identify him.

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But he wasn't wearing gloves.

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Dave is hopeful the man might have left forensic evidence

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on the coin tray he'd touched.

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The coin dispenser was swabbed for DNA.

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But Dave's hopes are soon dashed.

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When you look at the footage you can see that the offender

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is very selective in how he removes the coins from the tray,

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which suggests he is forensically aware.

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Unfortunately, it didn't actually give us any DNA

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and didn't identify any suspects at that stage.

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The trail has run cold.

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A dangerous armed robber is still on the streets.

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Later, the robber strikes at another bookies,

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and this time he's even more violent.

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But the police have an effective weapon of their own.

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An expert video analyst finds vital evidence

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in one single frame out of 45,000.

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Now here's a pair of not-so-calculating criminals.

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These two muppets on a moped rudely tell a driver to clear off

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because they want to get on

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with robbing the estate agents behind them.

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Whoa, you need stabilisers.

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The pair are struggling because they are carrying a big block.

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One of them uses it to try to bust through the toughened glass

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of the shop front window. But he'll be glad for his crash helmet.

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He's going to get more than he bargained for.

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GLASS SMASHES

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The clumsy crook has knocked the 60kg pane of glass

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out of its frame, bringing it down on his bonce.

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After head-butting the moped,

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he gets back onto his feet and grabs a computer.

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The dizzy delinquent then gets back on his bike,

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and the two of them nearly collide with an ambulance

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as they escape.

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But the police soon catch up with these bumbling burglars,

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who also stole the moped.

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The main offender gets 26 months in jail,

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and his accomplice is electronically tagged

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and put under curfew for six months,

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which must be a bit of a "pane".

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A pair of thieves in a van

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spot a blacksmith has left his yard unattended.

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They steal over £1,000 worth of his property while he's away.

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But the blacksmith has just turned up,

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and he's about to catch them in the act.

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Unless these fast-thinking thieves can pull the wool over his eyes.

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Gittisham is a village in East Devon,

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and it's home to Julian's traditional blacksmiths.

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Established in 1890,

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the family business has been going for over 125 years.

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It's been around for five generations.

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It's not like a nine to five job.

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It's my hobby as well, so I like it very much.

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Julian grew up at his father's anvil,

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and the pair forged a successful business together.

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Now history is repeating itself,

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with Julian's 18-year-old son Alex taking up the trade.

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When I was younger, I was always mesmerised by my dad

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getting this hot metal out of the forge fire,

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and he's bending it into all sorts of shapes.

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Julian and Alex's ironwork is popular,

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and they get lots of visitors,

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so they updated their CCTV to a multiple camera system

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covering most of their yard.

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We see the customers popping in, and we can be down to greet them

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before they go to the trouble of looking around like, you know.

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But we've never experienced anyone

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that has wanted to actually take advantage

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and try and steal stuff.

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But that's about to change

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when Julian finds himself encountering

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a very devious pair of thieves.

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It's a Monday afternoon in November,

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and the area has been experiencing heavy rain and flooding.

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Hearing that some cars are stranded in the floods,

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Julian drops everything to go and help.

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Alex is at college, so their yard is left unattended.

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Just after Julian leaves,

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his CCTV cameras show this van arriving

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and parking up on the drive at the front of the workshop.

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A man in a flat cap gets out and gingerly walks in...

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..shortly followed by a younger man, also sporting a flat cap.

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While Julian is out doing good deeds,

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this pair are planning to do over his business.

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The older man spots their security camera.

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He comes over to it and pulls the lead out of the back.

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But it's already recorded his face,

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and he hasn't noticed there are other cameras

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around the yard filming what happens next.

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The pair start stealing Julian's equipment.

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But they are about to have company.

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Julian is returning to pick up his car so he can go and get Alex,

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who's been left stranded by the floods.

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He has no idea that he's heading into a crime scene.

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On the drive, the thieves are loading as much into their van

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as they can.

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They are going back in for more,

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when they see Julian suddenly come round the corner

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into the yard.

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The younger man hares back to their van...

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while the older man calmly greets Julian, aiming to distract him.

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This guy was coming in, and, to me,

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he just looked like an ordinary customer,

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and I said, "How can I help?"

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He said, "A car, there was a lady down the road wanting some help,"

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and I said, "Well, I'm going that way in a minute and I'll help her."

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I sort of couldn't make out why he didn't help,

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and then he went on to say...

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"Your father used to help us, sort of thing,

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"with a blacksmith and that."

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He didn't look that old, this fellow,

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and my father, unfortunately,

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had been passed away 20 years, so I thought that was a bit strange.

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And he said, "Well, I won't trouble you no more."

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He said, "We'll be off."

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As Julian waves them away, he's unaware he's been deceived,

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and this brazen couple are driving off

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with a load of his metal and tools, as bold as brass.

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A few minutes later, Julian goes to pick up Alex,

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but he can't get the men he's just bumped into out of his mind.

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I just mentioned it to Alex on the way back.

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I said, "There's something strange about that."

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I didn't think, first of all,

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that there would have been anything wrong,

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because you don't really suspect people to be a robber.

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So the only thing we could do was check the footage.

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When they get back,

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Alex notices straightaway that one of the camera feeds is down.

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But when they look at what the other cameras have recorded,

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they see exactly what's happened.

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We were just gobsmacked, really.

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Unbelievable, you know,

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to think I was helping somebody in their hour of need

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and those guys there were out to do the wrongdoing,

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and I was being broken into.

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They quickly check what's missing,

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and find lots of wind turbine batteries

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have been taken, along with a copper tank and expensive welding leads,

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around £1,500 worth of goods.

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I was very angry, annoyed that they'd found it so easy.

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As I was coming down, it was just a matter of seconds,

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I could have caught them in the act,

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and they were so cool and collected to turn around to me

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and say what they did.

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Didn't realise that the van

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that he was just stood right next to was full up with my stuff!

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I kicked myself.

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But Julian and Alex soon realised

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they could have the last laugh on these flat-capped criminals.

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Thanks to this camera, they haven't only captured the offenders' faces,

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they have their number plate, too.

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After handing this video over to the police,

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young Alex follows the old blacksmith's rule,

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strike while the iron's hot.

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He puts the images on the forge's Facebook page.

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I thought, well, maybe if I post it to this,

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some people must have recognised them in the area.

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Yeah, very proud of Alex, really.

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I wouldn't have done that myself.

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I'm still a little old-fashioned.

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He managed to get that out on Facebook within minutes.

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The outcome, it was amazing.

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The videos have been viewed 60,000, 70,000 times.

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Local sightings of the van

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and possible names for the men are sent in,

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and Alex passes them on to the police.

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In the meantime, the police have traced the van's numberplate.

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It's registered to the younger thief, who lives in Wiltshire,

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60 miles away.

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Officers pay him a visit.

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The van was there, but the people, apparently, weren't.

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The men are on the run,

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but with their faces everywhere, they are soon arrested.

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I mean, justice has got to be done, really.

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And the evidence was all there.

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And that evidence was so conclusive,

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they realised the case against them was cast-iron.

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The 24-year-old man pleaded guilty to theft,

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and was given a four-month suspended sentence,

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placed under curfew for three months,

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and ordered to pay £480 compensation.

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The 39-year-old man also pleaded guilty.

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He was given a six-month suspended sentence,

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and ordered to pay £480 in compensation.

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Back at the blacksmiths, since the incident,

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Julian and Alex have improved the yard's security

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by putting up a sheet metal gate and extra cameras.

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The area is kind of a secure compound now.

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They are looking forward to forging ahead

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and shaping the future of their business together.

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I'm hoping to work with my dad for a lot longer,

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and then take over the forge

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and make it a million-dollar business.

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Especially now another generation are raring to take over,

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sort of thing, with modern techniques and whatever,

0:18:400:18:42

we're nearly there.

0:18:420:18:44

I'll put my feet up!

0:18:440:18:45

We're back at Newport, where an armed robber is on the run.

0:18:560:19:00

He recently raided Mike's bookmaker's.

0:19:000:19:03

I heard the sound of a gun being cocked.

0:19:030:19:05

Having a gun pointed straight at his head

0:19:060:19:08

has had a traumatic effect on Mike.

0:19:080:19:11

Inside, I just went...

0:19:110:19:13

It wasn't easy to talk about.

0:19:130:19:16

It's not easy to talk about now.

0:19:160:19:17

Four weeks after Mike's shop was attacked, the robber strikes again.

0:19:190:19:23

It's midday on a Sunday

0:19:250:19:27

when this man approaches another bookmaker's in the area.

0:19:270:19:31

He's wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses,

0:19:310:19:34

neither of which he takes off after entering.

0:19:340:19:36

The cashier is behind a secure counter.

0:19:380:19:40

The man grabs some betting cards and sits down.

0:19:420:19:45

He stays there for the next 30 minutes...

0:19:460:19:48

..before asking the cashier for a cup of water...

0:19:500:19:52

..and striking up a conversation.

0:19:530:19:55

Eventually, the shop empties,

0:19:590:20:02

and, having built up a rapport with the cashier,

0:20:020:20:04

the man points out some litter that's been dropped in the corner.

0:20:040:20:08

It appears he's being helpful,

0:20:080:20:10

but his real aim is to entice the cashier out from behind the counter.

0:20:100:20:14

After the rubbish is thrown in the bin, the man pounces.

0:20:180:20:21

He follows the cashier, pulling out a gun...

0:20:240:20:26

..and then he shoves him violently, demanding money.

0:20:280:20:31

But the cashier bravely resists,

0:20:340:20:37

and a scuffle breaks out between the two.

0:20:370:20:39

Eventually, the robber grabs £200 from the till

0:20:420:20:45

and punches the cashier...

0:20:450:20:47

..before making his getaway.

0:20:490:20:50

The robber puts his hand to his gun,

0:20:510:20:54

warning the cashier not to follow him, and escapes across the road.

0:20:540:20:57

The police are called.

0:21:000:21:01

Detective Constable Dave Hancocke and other officers rush to the shop.

0:21:030:21:07

I went to the scene.

0:21:080:21:09

I can remember the victim telling officers that that was it,

0:21:090:21:12

he didn't want to come back to work, he wanted to retire there and then.

0:21:120:21:15

I'm just glad that, physically, he was OK,

0:21:150:21:17

but, yeah, it's life-changing stuff.

0:21:170:21:19

Although this is the second armed robbery

0:21:210:21:23

at a local bookmaker's within the space of a month,

0:21:230:21:26

Dave can't be sure it's the same man.

0:21:260:21:28

Even with the CCTV.

0:21:290:21:32

When we actually viewed the footage from the second incident

0:21:320:21:34

and compared it to the first,

0:21:340:21:36

initially, it didn't appear to be the same person.

0:21:360:21:38

In the first incident, he looks younger,

0:21:380:21:40

and, on the second incident,

0:21:400:21:42

you can clearly see he appears to be a lot older.

0:21:420:21:44

You can see his grey hair when the hat comes off.

0:21:440:21:46

So, immediately, there's no real link between the two.

0:21:460:21:49

The robber had also kept hold of the cup he'd drunk from

0:21:510:21:54

to avoid leaving any forensic evidence behind.

0:21:540:21:57

The police need some leads,

0:21:590:22:01

so they get local media to publish a picture of the robber.

0:22:010:22:05

We sent out the image to Crimestoppers

0:22:050:22:07

and other social media to try and have the public help us.

0:22:070:22:11

And the appeal brings a breakthrough.

0:22:110:22:13

A member of the public gives them a name, 43-year-old Gareth Williams.

0:22:130:22:18

We started looking into his background.

0:22:190:22:22

He had had a criminal history

0:22:220:22:24

and had committed offences of a similar nature.

0:22:240:22:27

When we looked at where he was living, he was living within Gwent.

0:22:270:22:31

From looking at police pictures of that individual,

0:22:310:22:34

it was clear that he had a resemblance to the robber.

0:22:340:22:37

The police's prime suspect now identified,

0:22:370:22:40

they find out the registration number of his car...

0:22:400:22:43

..and check its movements using traffic cameras

0:22:440:22:47

and the CCTV of local businesses

0:22:470:22:49

on the days of the two robberies.

0:22:490:22:51

When we looked at automatic number plate recognition,

0:22:510:22:54

it was evident that his vehicle had travelled to and from

0:22:540:22:59

the areas of both bookies

0:22:590:23:00

before and after the robberies had actually taken place.

0:23:000:23:03

The police track Williams down,

0:23:060:23:08

arrest him and take him into custody.

0:23:080:23:10

Dave interviews him under caution,

0:23:120:23:14

but Williams categorically denies being the robber.

0:23:140:23:18

When we spoke to him about his movements,

0:23:180:23:20

he gave an account as to why his vehicle

0:23:200:23:23

would be in those locations at those relevant times.

0:23:230:23:26

It's a sense of frustration.

0:23:260:23:28

That's when we then have to look at gathering the evidence

0:23:280:23:31

to disprove what he's told us.

0:23:310:23:33

They analyse call data from Williams's mobile phone

0:23:330:23:36

and discover that it was used near Mike's bookmaker's

0:23:360:23:39

just minutes after the robbery.

0:23:390:23:41

Although the gunman's face was partially obscured

0:23:430:23:45

by a hood and scarf,

0:23:450:23:47

they still ask Mike to attend a video ID parade

0:23:470:23:51

to see if he can recognise the suspect.

0:23:510:23:53

You get shown eight or nine images.

0:23:530:23:55

One at a time.

0:23:550:23:56

There was one where I physically just went...

0:23:570:24:00

-HE GASPS

-..as I saw his face.

0:24:000:24:02

They said, "OK, can you identify?"

0:24:020:24:03

I said, "Yeah, I'm 85% sure it's that one."

0:24:030:24:05

"Why do you say only a 85%?"

0:24:070:24:08

I said, "Because consciously,

0:24:080:24:10

"I couldn't tell you if that guy was sat right next to me.

0:24:100:24:12

"But subconsciously, my blood just ran cold when I saw that guy."

0:24:120:24:16

The police charged Williams with the two robberies,

0:24:160:24:19

but they have a serious problem.

0:24:190:24:21

He continues to plead his innocence and with no DNA evidence,

0:24:210:24:25

David needs to make the case against Williams bulletproof.

0:24:250:24:28

Or he may well go free.

0:24:280:24:30

So, forensic imagery analyst Ash Haldenby is called in.

0:24:320:24:36

His job is to compare footage of the robber at the crime scenes

0:24:370:24:41

with images of the suspect in custody

0:24:410:24:43

to determine if it is the same man.

0:24:430:24:46

Even if the individual's face is partially covered,

0:24:490:24:52

there will be areas of it that you can see.

0:24:520:24:55

In the first incident,

0:24:550:24:56

the best footage came

0:24:560:24:58

as the offender was actually leaving the premises.

0:24:580:25:01

And as you get still closer,

0:25:010:25:02

you get a little bit of his eyes, the shape of his face,

0:25:020:25:05

and also the shape of his nose.

0:25:050:25:07

And this criminal's nose is quite distinctive.

0:25:080:25:12

The fact that the nose kinked off to the one side of the face,

0:25:120:25:15

this one was a really significant curve.

0:25:150:25:17

This also matched the suspect's nose.

0:25:170:25:19

It sort of had an appearance of having been broken

0:25:190:25:22

at some point in the past.

0:25:220:25:24

Also, indents on the robber's nose suggests he usually wears glasses.

0:25:240:25:29

Like Williams.

0:25:290:25:30

But more is needed.

0:25:320:25:34

Ash then sifts through the footage of the other robbery.

0:25:340:25:37

The second incident,

0:25:370:25:39

there wasn't as much detail in terms of the centre of the face.

0:25:390:25:42

So it was a case of look at all around of what you could see.

0:25:420:25:46

The robber was in the bookmaker's for half an hour.

0:25:460:25:48

So Ash scours over 45,000 frames of footage.

0:25:480:25:53

Then he finds one single frame,

0:25:530:25:55

one split-second shot that could just crack the case.

0:25:550:25:59

As the scuffle takes place,

0:25:590:26:01

and the hat was knocked off the offender's head,

0:26:010:26:04

the offender's facing away from the camera,

0:26:040:26:07

but you get a nice shot of the upper left ear,

0:26:070:26:10

which appears to dimple inwards, quite significantly.

0:26:100:26:13

I was really excited to find this feature that is so unique.

0:26:160:26:18

Like, wow, this is really, really significant.

0:26:180:26:20

It's such a distinctive feature.

0:26:200:26:23

If we find it on the suspect's ear,

0:26:230:26:26

then it's going to be really, really powerful support.

0:26:260:26:28

And Williams does have the same section of his left ear missing.

0:26:300:26:33

It would actually be from having sustained injury

0:26:340:26:37

so in the same way as a scar would be highly distinctive.

0:26:370:26:40

There's very little chance of someone else,

0:26:400:26:42

who has all these other features,

0:26:420:26:44

also having this piece missing out of his ear.

0:26:440:26:46

Ash also finds many other facial similarities

0:26:470:26:51

between the gunman in the two robberies and Williams.

0:26:510:26:54

It's a major breakthrough for Dave.

0:26:540:26:57

It felt like the final piece of the jigsaw, really.

0:26:570:26:59

The evidence that Ash provided was crucial,

0:26:590:27:03

it really put our suspect at both scenes.

0:27:030:27:05

Even with the overwhelming evidence against him,

0:27:070:27:10

Williams still refuses to plead guilty.

0:27:100:27:13

So his victims have to testify in court.

0:27:130:27:16

But with their help, and Dave's watertight case, justice is served.

0:27:160:27:20

Williams was convicted of two counts of robbery

0:27:230:27:25

and possession of a firearm with intent.

0:27:250:27:28

He was given life imprisonment and will serve a minimum term

0:27:280:27:31

of eight years in jail before he can be considered for parole.

0:27:310:27:35

Dave's delighted with the verdict.

0:27:380:27:41

Someone has committed this type of offence.

0:27:420:27:44

You want them off the street to make the community safer.

0:27:440:27:48

And also, giving massive closure to the victims,

0:27:480:27:51

realising that this person

0:27:510:27:52

will no longer be walking down the street.

0:27:520:27:54

It was just an immense sense of relief.

0:27:540:27:56

I couldn't thank Dave enough.

0:27:560:27:58

In the months following the robbery,

0:27:580:28:00

Mike's post-traumatic stress disorder has significantly improved.

0:28:000:28:04

He's back managing at his bookies,

0:28:040:28:06

and he's optimistic about the future.

0:28:060:28:08

My family have, particularly Victoria,

0:28:090:28:11

has just helped me through it,

0:28:110:28:13

and we've endured this sort of thing together,

0:28:130:28:15

and it's just made us stronger.

0:28:150:28:16

Now we are very, very, very happy in our own household.

0:28:160:28:20

-Rar!

-Rar!

0:28:200:28:23

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

0:28:270:28:30

who've been Caught Red Handed.

0:28:300:28:32

The police use state-of-the-art video analysis to uncover the identity of an armed robber, and a large pane of glass lands on an incompetent thief.


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