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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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's just unbelievable that she thinks she can get away with it.
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.
Today, at a bookmaker's,
manager Mike thinks this man is just a normal customer -
until he pulls out a gun.
I heard the sound of a gun being cocked.
I just sort of froze inside.
Am I going to die?
The robber later strikes at another bookmaker's,
and he's becoming more violent.
Desperate to catch such a dangerous man,
the police use the latest technology to uncover clues to his identity.
Also today, Julian the blacksmith chats to a man outside his yard.
He has no idea this visitor and an accomplice
are actually in the process of stealing from him.
He just looked like an ordinary customer,
didn't realise that the van that he was just stood right next to
was full up with my stuff.
But when Julian works out he's been hoodwinked,
he's hot on their heels.
Also later, two incompetent wannabe thieves
plan to smash through the giant windowpane
of an estate agents,
but the window fights back, and one of them ends up feeling the pain.
Gun crime in this country is rare,
but for it to remain that way,
robbers who use firearms need to be caught quickly
and that's why the police are developing new techniques
and technology all the time.
In Newport, South Wales, Mike lives with his partner, Victoria,
and their children.
Mike works in a local bookmaker's.
He got the job when he was 20, after a spell of unemployment.
I'd applied for job after job after job.
I had maybe one interview out of, say, 30 applications.
But Mike never stopped believing in himself.
Wandering around handing out CVs,
people, like, getting fed up with seeing my face, month after month,
but you've just got to keep trying.
Then one day, he took a chance and went into a bookmaker's.
Walked in, said "Have you any jobs going?"
They said, "Yeah, actually. Drop your CV in,
"and fill in an application form."
After an interview, Mike got the job.
Fantastic, sort of went home, like, singing.
And the going stayed good.
He worked his way up and was eventually promoted to manager.
It hasn't always been plain sailing, but I still love being my own,
running my own store, being a manager sort of thing.
It's something I take pride in.
But two years into the job,
Mike has to face a terrifying and life-endangering experience.
It's coming up to 9.30 on a Saturday evening in summer.
The bookmaker's CCTV shows Mike is the only one on shift.
The shop is empty, until this man walks in.
Looked up, heard the door.
I was like, "You all right, bud?" "Yeah, all right, mate."
He asked me, "Am I too late to put the Irish lottery on?"
I was like, "Yeah, mate, sorry."
He said, "Oh, all right, can I have the results then."
"Yeah, no problem, bud."
While Mike looks up the results,
the man steps away from the counter and puts his hand in his pocket.
Because I'm focusing on the till, I'm not paying attention to him.
As Mike hands him a printout of the results, the man pulls out a gun.
Mike recoils in terror.
I heard the sound of a gun being cocked, because... I still hear it now.
Look up, see the gun. Oh, just, inside, I just went...
I just sort of froze inside.
I didn't even think consciously, everything was just a blur.
The robber demands money from the till.
Fight or flight isn't an option.
The only option I had was do as I was told.
I was thinking of the kids and the family. They've got to have a father.
I need to do everything I can to make sure I can go home.
But the till has been emptied recently,
and there's only £80 in it.
He's not happy with how much it is. He wants more.
The robber orders Mike to open the safe next to him.
Mike does so, and gives him the £400 that's in there.
Then the gunman sees there's another safe.
But Mike tells him it has a time delay
and can't be opened immediately.
He was demanding stuff I couldn't give at that time.
What's he doing? He's never going to make enough out of this place
for this to be even worth it. Am I going to die?
Mike tries to stay as calm as possible.
So I've let him know, yeah, I'll open the safe for you, mate,
if you want, but you have to wait 15 minutes.
You can wait if you like.
But the robber's in too much of a hurry.
He's now spotted a coin tray and demands Mike hand it over.
I just stuck the tray on the side and just hands back up in the air.
Help yourself, take the bloody tray, just leave me alone.
The gunman eventually heads for the door,
warning Mike not to press the alarm.
On his way out, he pauses to wipe fingerprints off the door handle,
before leaving the shop and a very shaken Mike.
I was on the verge of tears,
sort of pretty much from the moment he turned his back and walked away.
Threw the deadlocks on the door, phoned our bosses,
just sort of quivering and jabbering through what had happened...
..and then loads of police turned up, like, seven or eight of them.
After making his statement to the police, Mike goes home to Victoria.
She just come up to me and put her arms around me,
and I broke down in front of her.
-Um, it wasn't easy to talk about.
It's not easy to talk about now.
But she was great.
After the robbery, Mike's mental health suffers.
For the next two weeks,
he can't face the prospect of going back to work.
I'm just numb inside,
like, I love my kids but I didn't want them near me
because I felt like I was going to be short with them,
I felt quite snappy with people.
Mike is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder
and receives counselling.
Meanwhile, the dangerous gunman who threatened him
is still at large.
But Detective Constable Dave Hancock of Gwent Police
aims to put that right.
Within Gwent, we don't have many armed robberies.
It's a massive threat that someone is going around with a firearm,
you know, threatening people and demanding money,
and, you know, if we didn't catch that person,
things would potentially escalate.
The pressure is on,
but even with good CCTV pictures of the robbery,
the investigation is hampered
by a lack of clear-cut evidence.
Didn't have any footage from outside
to show whether a vehicle was used in getting to the scene
and, also, the movements of the offender after it.
Where did he go?
The robber also covered his face,
making it difficult to identify him.
But he wasn't wearing gloves.
Dave is hopeful the man might have left forensic evidence
on the coin tray he'd touched.
The coin dispenser was swabbed for DNA.
But Dave's hopes are soon dashed.
When you look at the footage you can see that the offender
is very selective in how he removes the coins from the tray,
which suggests he is forensically aware.
Unfortunately, it didn't actually give us any DNA
and didn't identify any suspects at that stage.
The trail has run cold.
A dangerous armed robber is still on the streets.
Later, the robber strikes at another bookies,
and this time he's even more violent.
But the police have an effective weapon of their own.
An expert video analyst finds vital evidence
in one single frame out of 45,000.
Now here's a pair of not-so-calculating criminals.
These two muppets on a moped rudely tell a driver to clear off
because they want to get on
with robbing the estate agents behind them.
Whoa, you need stabilisers.
The pair are struggling because they are carrying a big block.
One of them uses it to try to bust through the toughened glass
of the shop front window. But he'll be glad for his crash helmet.
He's going to get more than he bargained for.
The clumsy crook has knocked the 60kg pane of glass
out of its frame, bringing it down on his bonce.
After head-butting the moped,
he gets back onto his feet and grabs a computer.
The dizzy delinquent then gets back on his bike,
and the two of them nearly collide with an ambulance
as they escape.
But the police soon catch up with these bumbling burglars,
who also stole the moped.
The main offender gets 26 months in jail,
and his accomplice is electronically tagged
and put under curfew for six months,
which must be a bit of a "pane".
A pair of thieves in a van
spot a blacksmith has left his yard unattended.
They steal over £1,000 worth of his property while he's away.
But the blacksmith has just turned up,
and he's about to catch them in the act.
Unless these fast-thinking thieves can pull the wool over his eyes.
Gittisham is a village in East Devon,
and it's home to Julian's traditional blacksmiths.
Established in 1890,
the family business has been going for over 125 years.
It's been around for five generations.
It's not like a nine to five job.
It's my hobby as well, so I like it very much.
Julian grew up at his father's anvil,
and the pair forged a successful business together.
Now history is repeating itself,
with Julian's 18-year-old son Alex taking up the trade.
When I was younger, I was always mesmerised by my dad
getting this hot metal out of the forge fire,
and he's bending it into all sorts of shapes.
Julian and Alex's ironwork is popular,
and they get lots of visitors,
so they updated their CCTV to a multiple camera system
covering most of their yard.
We see the customers popping in, and we can be down to greet them
before they go to the trouble of looking around like, you know.
But we've never experienced anyone
that has wanted to actually take advantage
and try and steal stuff.
But that's about to change
when Julian finds himself encountering
a very devious pair of thieves.
It's a Monday afternoon in November,
and the area has been experiencing heavy rain and flooding.
Hearing that some cars are stranded in the floods,
Julian drops everything to go and help.
Alex is at college, so their yard is left unattended.
Just after Julian leaves,
his CCTV cameras show this van arriving
and parking up on the drive at the front of the workshop.
A man in a flat cap gets out and gingerly walks in...
..shortly followed by a younger man, also sporting a flat cap.
While Julian is out doing good deeds,
this pair are planning to do over his business.
The older man spots their security camera.
He comes over to it and pulls the lead out of the back.
But it's already recorded his face,
and he hasn't noticed there are other cameras
around the yard filming what happens next.
The pair start stealing Julian's equipment.
But they are about to have company.
Julian is returning to pick up his car so he can go and get Alex,
who's been left stranded by the floods.
He has no idea that he's heading into a crime scene.
On the drive, the thieves are loading as much into their van
as they can.
They are going back in for more,
when they see Julian suddenly come round the corner
into the yard.
The younger man hares back to their van...
while the older man calmly greets Julian, aiming to distract him.
This guy was coming in, and, to me,
he just looked like an ordinary customer,
and I said, "How can I help?"
He said, "A car, there was a lady down the road wanting some help,"
and I said, "Well, I'm going that way in a minute and I'll help her."
I sort of couldn't make out why he didn't help,
and then he went on to say...
"Your father used to help us, sort of thing,
"with a blacksmith and that."
He didn't look that old, this fellow,
and my father, unfortunately,
had been passed away 20 years, so I thought that was a bit strange.
And he said, "Well, I won't trouble you no more."
He said, "We'll be off."
As Julian waves them away, he's unaware he's been deceived,
and this brazen couple are driving off
with a load of his metal and tools, as bold as brass.
A few minutes later, Julian goes to pick up Alex,
but he can't get the men he's just bumped into out of his mind.
I just mentioned it to Alex on the way back.
I said, "There's something strange about that."
I didn't think, first of all,
that there would have been anything wrong,
because you don't really suspect people to be a robber.
So the only thing we could do was check the footage.
When they get back,
Alex notices straightaway that one of the camera feeds is down.
But when they look at what the other cameras have recorded,
they see exactly what's happened.
We were just gobsmacked, really.
Unbelievable, you know,
to think I was helping somebody in their hour of need
and those guys there were out to do the wrongdoing,
and I was being broken into.
They quickly check what's missing,
and find lots of wind turbine batteries
have been taken, along with a copper tank and expensive welding leads,
around £1,500 worth of goods.
I was very angry, annoyed that they'd found it so easy.
As I was coming down, it was just a matter of seconds,
I could have caught them in the act,
and they were so cool and collected to turn around to me
and say what they did.
Didn't realise that the van
that he was just stood right next to was full up with my stuff!
I kicked myself.
But Julian and Alex soon realised
they could have the last laugh on these flat-capped criminals.
Thanks to this camera, they haven't only captured the offenders' faces,
they have their number plate, too.
After handing this video over to the police,
young Alex follows the old blacksmith's rule,
strike while the iron's hot.
He puts the images on the forge's Facebook page.
I thought, well, maybe if I post it to this,
some people must have recognised them in the area.
Yeah, very proud of Alex, really.
I wouldn't have done that myself.
I'm still a little old-fashioned.
He managed to get that out on Facebook within minutes.
The outcome, it was amazing.
The videos have been viewed 60,000, 70,000 times.
Local sightings of the van
and possible names for the men are sent in,
and Alex passes them on to the police.
In the meantime, the police have traced the van's numberplate.
It's registered to the younger thief, who lives in Wiltshire,
60 miles away.
Officers pay him a visit.
The van was there, but the people, apparently, weren't.
The men are on the run,
but with their faces everywhere, they are soon arrested.
I mean, justice has got to be done, really.
And the evidence was all there.
And that evidence was so conclusive,
they realised the case against them was cast-iron.
The 24-year-old man pleaded guilty to theft,
and was given a four-month suspended sentence,
placed under curfew for three months,
and ordered to pay £480 compensation.
The 39-year-old man also pleaded guilty.
He was given a six-month suspended sentence,
and ordered to pay £480 in compensation.
Back at the blacksmiths, since the incident,
Julian and Alex have improved the yard's security
by putting up a sheet metal gate and extra cameras.
The area is kind of a secure compound now.
They are looking forward to forging ahead
and shaping the future of their business together.
I'm hoping to work with my dad for a lot longer,
and then take over the forge
and make it a million-dollar business.
Especially now another generation are raring to take over,
sort of thing, with modern techniques and whatever,
we're nearly there.
I'll put my feet up!
We're back at Newport, where an armed robber is on the run.
He recently raided Mike's bookmaker's.
I heard the sound of a gun being cocked.
Having a gun pointed straight at his head
has had a traumatic effect on Mike.
Inside, I just went...
It wasn't easy to talk about.
It's not easy to talk about now.
Four weeks after Mike's shop was attacked, the robber strikes again.
It's midday on a Sunday
when this man approaches another bookmaker's in the area.
He's wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses,
neither of which he takes off after entering.
The cashier is behind a secure counter.
The man grabs some betting cards and sits down.
He stays there for the next 30 minutes...
..before asking the cashier for a cup of water...
..and striking up a conversation.
Eventually, the shop empties,
and, having built up a rapport with the cashier,
the man points out some litter that's been dropped in the corner.
It appears he's being helpful,
but his real aim is to entice the cashier out from behind the counter.
After the rubbish is thrown in the bin, the man pounces.
He follows the cashier, pulling out a gun...
..and then he shoves him violently, demanding money.
But the cashier bravely resists,
and a scuffle breaks out between the two.
Eventually, the robber grabs £200 from the till
and punches the cashier...
..before making his getaway.
The robber puts his hand to his gun,
warning the cashier not to follow him, and escapes across the road.
The police are called.
Detective Constable Dave Hancocke and other officers rush to the shop.
I went to the scene.
I can remember the victim telling officers that that was it,
he didn't want to come back to work, he wanted to retire there and then.
I'm just glad that, physically, he was OK,
but, yeah, it's life-changing stuff.
Although this is the second armed robbery
at a local bookmaker's within the space of a month,
Dave can't be sure it's the same man.
Even with the CCTV.
When we actually viewed the footage from the second incident
and compared it to the first,
initially, it didn't appear to be the same person.
In the first incident, he looks younger,
and, on the second incident,
you can clearly see he appears to be a lot older.
You can see his grey hair when the hat comes off.
So, immediately, there's no real link between the two.
The robber had also kept hold of the cup he'd drunk from
to avoid leaving any forensic evidence behind.
The police need some leads,
so they get local media to publish a picture of the robber.
We sent out the image to Crimestoppers
and other social media to try and have the public help us.
And the appeal brings a breakthrough.
A member of the public gives them a name, 43-year-old Gareth Williams.
We started looking into his background.
He had had a criminal history
and had committed offences of a similar nature.
When we looked at where he was living, he was living within Gwent.
From looking at police pictures of that individual,
it was clear that he had a resemblance to the robber.
The police's prime suspect now identified,
they find out the registration number of his car...
..and check its movements using traffic cameras
and the CCTV of local businesses
on the days of the two robberies.
When we looked at automatic number plate recognition,
it was evident that his vehicle had travelled to and from
the areas of both bookies
before and after the robberies had actually taken place.
The police track Williams down,
arrest him and take him into custody.
Dave interviews him under caution,
but Williams categorically denies being the robber.
When we spoke to him about his movements,
he gave an account as to why his vehicle
would be in those locations at those relevant times.
It's a sense of frustration.
That's when we then have to look at gathering the evidence
to disprove what he's told us.
They analyse call data from Williams's mobile phone
and discover that it was used near Mike's bookmaker's
just minutes after the robbery.
Although the gunman's face was partially obscured
by a hood and scarf,
they still ask Mike to attend a video ID parade
to see if he can recognise the suspect.
You get shown eight or nine images.
One at a time.
There was one where I physically just went...
-..as I saw his face.
They said, "OK, can you identify?"
I said, "Yeah, I'm 85% sure it's that one."
"Why do you say only a 85%?"
I said, "Because consciously,
"I couldn't tell you if that guy was sat right next to me.
"But subconsciously, my blood just ran cold when I saw that guy."
The police charged Williams with the two robberies,
but they have a serious problem.
He continues to plead his innocence and with no DNA evidence,
David needs to make the case against Williams bulletproof.
Or he may well go free.
So, forensic imagery analyst Ash Haldenby is called in.
His job is to compare footage of the robber at the crime scenes
with images of the suspect in custody
to determine if it is the same man.
Even if the individual's face is partially covered,
there will be areas of it that you can see.
In the first incident,
the best footage came
as the offender was actually leaving the premises.
And as you get still closer,
you get a little bit of his eyes, the shape of his face,
and also the shape of his nose.
And this criminal's nose is quite distinctive.
The fact that the nose kinked off to the one side of the face,
this one was a really significant curve.
This also matched the suspect's nose.
It sort of had an appearance of having been broken
at some point in the past.
Also, indents on the robber's nose suggests he usually wears glasses.
But more is needed.
Ash then sifts through the footage of the other robbery.
The second incident,
there wasn't as much detail in terms of the centre of the face.
So it was a case of look at all around of what you could see.
The robber was in the bookmaker's for half an hour.
So Ash scours over 45,000 frames of footage.
Then he finds one single frame,
one split-second shot that could just crack the case.
As the scuffle takes place,
and the hat was knocked off the offender's head,
the offender's facing away from the camera,
but you get a nice shot of the upper left ear,
which appears to dimple inwards, quite significantly.
I was really excited to find this feature that is so unique.
Like, wow, this is really, really significant.
It's such a distinctive feature.
If we find it on the suspect's ear,
then it's going to be really, really powerful support.
And Williams does have the same section of his left ear missing.
It would actually be from having sustained injury
so in the same way as a scar would be highly distinctive.
There's very little chance of someone else,
who has all these other features,
also having this piece missing out of his ear.
Ash also finds many other facial similarities
between the gunman in the two robberies and Williams.
It's a major breakthrough for Dave.
It felt like the final piece of the jigsaw, really.
The evidence that Ash provided was crucial,
it really put our suspect at both scenes.
Even with the overwhelming evidence against him,
Williams still refuses to plead guilty.
So his victims have to testify in court.
But with their help, and Dave's watertight case, justice is served.
Williams was convicted of two counts of robbery
and possession of a firearm with intent.
He was given life imprisonment and will serve a minimum term
of eight years in jail before he can be considered for parole.
Dave's delighted with the verdict.
Someone has committed this type of offence.
You want them off the street to make the community safer.
And also, giving massive closure to the victims,
realising that this person
will no longer be walking down the street.
It was just an immense sense of relief.
I couldn't thank Dave enough.
In the months following the robbery,
Mike's post-traumatic stress disorder has significantly improved.
He's back managing at his bookies,
and he's optimistic about the future.
My family have, particularly Victoria,
has just helped me through it,
and we've endured this sort of thing together,
and it's just made us stronger.
Now we are very, very, very happy in our own household.
That's it for today, and that's it for a few more criminals
who've been Caught Red Handed.
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.