Episode 17 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 17

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. At a jeweller's, a man wearing a comical wig turns deadly serious.


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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

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-bad guys.

-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 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, "Oh, 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 jeweller's,

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a man walks in, wearing a comical wig and sunglasses,

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but he turns deadly serious -

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pointing a gun at terrified staff and demanding they open the safe.

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But it's on a time lock, and shop owner Karen

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has to tell the gunman they can't open it.

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He said, "I don't believe you." I just had a feeling of dread.

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Cos you really don't know if he's going to shoot you.

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Also today - a hard-hearted burglar steals from single mum Lara.

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It was a terrible feeling. This is our sanctuary.

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He even ransacks her children's bedrooms.

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All my room had been trashed and all my pound coins had been taken.

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I felt really sad.

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But Max is a computer whiz-kid, and he starts an online manhunt.

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Also later - Anne gets a nasty surprise...

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..when her equestrian equipment shop is burgled.

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And another surprise when the thief returns and leaves a mysterious

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-calling card.

-Some liquid, that we realised was cooking oil,

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-from the smell of it.

-But his bizarre antics are being watched.

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The security company across the road is bristling with cameras.

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Of all the shops in a typical high street,

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jeweller's are especially tempting for robbers.

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They can see high-value items on display that look very easily

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accessible. But often jewellers aren't as straightforward to rob

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as they appear.

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In the centre of Southport, a seaside town near Liverpool,

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Karen runs a jeweller's.

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She had been an employee at the store, but two years ago was offered

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the chance to take it over when the previous owner retired.

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I wasn't sure, but it had been a good business for 30 years, and I

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thought, "At my age, where am I going to get another job from?"

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So I thought, "I'll take the chance."

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In the beginning, Karen found being the boss a challenge.

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Suddenly you were on the other side and it's, you've got all that

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responsibility and then you've got staff to look after.

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It is daunting.

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Karen added her own extra sparkle to the business by totally refurbishing

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-the store.

-You know, it's nice that people come in and they're buying

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gifts for someone and it's all surprise gifts,

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and people come in and buy engagement rings, and they're going

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out with a smile on their face.

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But one day in the shop, Karen and a colleague have a

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terrifying experience that has them fearing for their lives.

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It's a Saturday morning in May.

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The shop's security cameras are running as Karen and a colleague

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open up.

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Nearly all their expensive stock is kept in safes overnight,

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which they can't open yet, as they are fitted with time delay locks.

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There's nothing we can do until that timer comes on.

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While they wait, Karen chats with her colleague.

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After a few minutes,

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a man approaches the store and starts looking in the window.

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He's wearing sunglasses and has an unusual hairstyle.

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He rings the door's buzzer.

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Karen's pet dog, Stanley, goes to take a look.

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As in many jewellery shops, for security,

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customers have to be let in by staff pressing a button.

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Saturdays can be a busy day,

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when we can have people coming in quite early in the morning.

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Karen's colleague gets ready to greet the man,

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but she's about to go through an experience she still doesn't wish to

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talk about to this day.

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Karen's standing just off camera, in the corner of the room.

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Even at that stage, I didn't suspect anything.

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Suddenly, everything changes.

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The next thing is, he just pulled the gun out.

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At gunpoint, the man then forces the terrified shop assistant and Karen

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towards the back of the shop.

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I just had a feeling of dread.

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My legs started shaking and I just felt my heart really beating fast.

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The armed man ordered Karen to open the office safe.

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I knew that we couldn't do anything, and my colleague was saying,

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"We can't open the safe, it's on a time delay."

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She was, sort of, more or less screaming this at him.

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He said, "I don't believe you. You open the safe."

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And I just didn't know what to do.

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And my dog was sort of round his feet, and I'm thinking,

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"I hope he doesn't shoot my dog."

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Karen is standing near a panic button that could send an alarm to

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the police.

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I was ten inches away, but I just didn't do it,

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because I think I was just in shock,

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and I was just so fixated on looking at the gun,

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cos you really don't know if he's going to shoot you.

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But then the gunman realises they're telling the truth.

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He decides to leave,

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bizarrely making no attempt to steal any of the jewellery on display in

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the shop. He frogmarches Karen over to the door, which has automatically

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locked, and demands she unlocks it.

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I just opened the door and he went out.

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The robber hides his gun to avoid attention and briskly walks away.

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Nothing has been stolen from Karen's jewellers, and she and her

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colleague have been left physically unharmed, but shock soon sets in.

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My legs buckled from underneath me.

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I had to sit down on a chair.

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They phone the police, who arrive within minutes.

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A dangerous armed man is at large,

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but there's no immediate evidence to help the officers identify the

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-robber.

-He'd used his arm to get through the door,

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so there was no fingerprints anywhere.

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The forensics couldn't find anything.

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So they check Karen's CCTV,

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but realise the man is wearing a wig to disguise his identity.

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I didn't see that he had a wig on.

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I think it's cos I was just so busy looking at the gun.

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But Karen's security cameras still provide a breakthrough.

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One of them shows that the robber didn't escape on foot -

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he had a getaway car.

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As he's gone out the door, he's walked out, he's just gone to his

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car with a bag, and people are just carrying on as normal.

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The pictures are clear enough to

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read the registration number of the car.

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When police run a check, they find out it's stolen.

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They track the car's movement and put out an appeal for information.

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Soon they get a name,

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but the suspect goes into hiding.

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Several weeks pass as the police search for him.

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Karen and her colleague struggle to

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come to terms with what's happened.

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I felt responsible for my colleague who was going through it.

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She was not sleeping and she was having nightmares over it.

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She handed her notice in because she just felt that she couldn't work

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here any more.

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But two months after the attempted robbery, there's good news -

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the police find the main suspect and bring him in for questioning.

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Karen and her colleague are asked to attend a video identity parade.

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It was really difficult to pick him out.

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At the time, I looked at the gun, I didn't look at anything else.

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Fortunately, my colleague managed to pick him out.

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After being identified, the suspect admits to the crime.

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He was actually using an imitation weapon, but his terrified victims

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weren't to know that when he pointed it at them.

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It's changed everything. You know,

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I lost a member of staff that I had been friendly with for five or six years.

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You're just trying to earn a living. You do work hard for it, and he can

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just come in with a gun and think he's just going to take whatever he

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can. That's, you know, disgusting.

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Because of the psychological impact on victims like Karen and her

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colleague, strong punishments are given to criminals using fake guns.

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In court, the man was convicted of attempted robbery,

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having an imitation weapon and taking a car without consent.

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He was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

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It's taken a while, but Karen has finally got over the ordeal.

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I didn't want him to affect me, I just wanted to carry on.

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I still enjoy that buzz of going in and people coming through the door.

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I still enjoy owning the business.

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And I'm hoping that, you know,

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we're going to be here for many years to come.

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A masked man, holding a screwdriver, walks into a newsagents run by an

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elderly couple, and demands money from the 74-year-old woman behind

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the counter. But if he thinks she's going to be a soft touch, he's

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mistaken. She refuses to give him a penny.

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So he grabs the whole till.

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The woman doesn't take kindly to this, so she bravely

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gives him a lot of stick, and the robber heads for the door.

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But then he comes up against her husband.

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He's also in his 70s, and he's in no mood to negotiate either.

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In a move a wrestler would be proud of,

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the shopkeeper grapples the robber to the ground.

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After being body-slammed by a senior citizen,

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the red-faced robber gives up and runs off, empty-handed.

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The man was later caught and sentenced to five years in prison

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for this and another offence.

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So he'll have lots of time to regret trying to take on this

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have-a-go gran and grandad.

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In West Sussex, an intruder's on a smash... GLASS SHATTERS

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..and-grab raid on a family home.

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He even steals money from the kids' piggy banks!

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He then moves on to a nearby cottage.

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But the people of Bognor band together,

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and this burglar's on borrowed time.

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Clymping is a village near Bognor Regis on the south coast of England.

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Single mum Lara lives here with her children.

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I've now been in my current house for almost 14 years.

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It's got a lot of memories.

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Lara has three children -

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Harry, who's 17, Max, 13, and six-year-old Orla.

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The family are coming through a difficult time.

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My parents have recently split up.

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It was about 18 months ago,

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my husband and I separated.

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Yeah, so that's a very sad thing

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that we, as family, we're having to face.

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As well as watching out for each other,

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Lara's brought up her children to look after their pounds and pennies.

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I've always tried to encourage them to save

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rather than just to spend.

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The children have money boxes in their rooms, and hard-working Max

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keeps his regularly filled.

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I earned my money from my grandma.

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He'll mow her grass, clean cars, mow the grass here.

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For peace of mind, Lara's recently installed a security camera inside

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-the house.

-Now that I'm on my own, there are times that, you know,

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sometimes you don't always feel that safe any more.

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It turns out Lara is right to feel vulnerable,

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when a burglar breaks into her family home.

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It's a summer's day. Max is at school,

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but Orla has already broken up and Lara is taking her to her grandma's.

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Back at home, the security camera is recording, and suddenly it picks up

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the sound of shattering glass. GLASS SHATTERS

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This man has used a brick lying on Lara's drive to smash the patio door

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and break in.

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After a few minutes, the man returns and strolls out the way he came in.

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Later that afternoon, Lara returns home with Max.

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Orla is still at her grandma's.

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As we went into the kitchen, we both saw all the glass on the floor.

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As I stood there, I started to realise that we had been burgled,

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and that feeling of panic filled me.

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While Lara checks downstairs,

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Max runs up to his bedroom and is shocked by what he finds.

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My drawers were open, cupboards were open.

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I have a silver mug, and I had quite a lot of money in there,

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so that had all been taken.

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I went into my mum's room and her drawers had been opened.

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And then I checked my sister's room. She has about four or five money

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boxes, and they'd all been smashed.

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Max shouts to his mum to come upstairs, where Lara finds her

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jewellery box raided and valuables her dad gave her missing.

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He died a couple of years ago. That was my last link to him, really.

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Lara accesses the CCTV cameras' recordings on her mobile.

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She and Max are horrified to see a burglar in their home.

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It was a terrible feeling, and it actually reduced us both to tears,

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really, because it was all a bit overwhelming.

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Max calls 999, and while they wait for the police,

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Orla comes back and is distraught to find her precious money boxes in

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pieces on the floor.

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My grandma gave it to me.

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I felt really sad.

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This is our sanctuary.

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We should feel at our most safe and comfortable at home.

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It makes you feel really angry, that someone can have that effect.

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£150 has been stolen from the children, and £2,500 worth of

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jewellery from Lara. But the good news for the family is their

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security camera has captured an image of the burglar.

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The police take a copy,

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and Max, who's a whiz when it comes to computers,

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puts the footage online.

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Within 20 minutes, I had people texting me.

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It got picked up, and then it was spread, and then more and more

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-people, you know, shared it.

-I think I had about 57,000 shares.

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I even had pictures of people coming through that looked similar to him,

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even with names that we gave the police.

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And the police soon confirm their chief suspect is one of those names,

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but his whereabouts are unknown.

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Not for long, though.

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He's about to target another home in the area.

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This cottage belongs to Karl,

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who recently spent his life savings renovating the building.

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Karl works as an IT director, so it's not surprising he's

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installed hi-tech cameras to protect his new home.

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If I am still at work or out at the shops or even out of the country,

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I receive a small alert to say there's been motion detected.

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And today, while he's at work...

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Karl's cameras pick up a face we now recognise -

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the man who broke into Lara's house is now in Karl's back garden!

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He tries a door handle...

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but it's locked securely.

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The intruder spends the next few minutes pacing up and down,

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looking through the windows,

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but they're double-glazed and hard to break.

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There's nothing lying around to smash them with.

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He decides to leave.

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An exterior camera is triggered as he walks away...

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and an alert is sent to Karl's phone at work.

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He sees what's just happened.

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I was absolutely astonished and angry and thought, "How dare you?!"

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I am so pleased, on this occasion, that I had those cameras in place.

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He could have actually just been casing the joint with the intent to

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come back the next day, the next week, who knows?

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Karl's camera has captured an even clearer image of the man than Lara's.

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You can see him, almost looking into the camera as he goes out. He's very distinctive.

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You can see this grey jacket, red and white emblem,

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the white beanie hat, and the sunglasses there, and that's the point that I thought,

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"Absolutely, this is enough to be able to track this person down."

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Karl takes a close look at the man's image and starts to get a sense of

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-deja vu.

-There's just something niggling at my mind to say,

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"I think I've seen this guy somewhere before."

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Then Karl remembers seeing the footage of a recent local burglary

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that had been shared online -

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the video Max posted.

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It was quite evident to me that this was the same person that was wanted

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by the police.

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Karl also puts his own screenshots of the intruder on Bognor's social

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media sites.

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He soon receives multiple messages naming the suspect and is

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even sent a link to the man's Facebook profile.

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I was just absolutely astonished to find that he's wearing the same

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sunglasses, the same beanie hat

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that he was wearing when he attempted to

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gain entry to our place.

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Having been caught on camera twice in a matter of weeks,

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this burglar is really starting to bother Bognor.

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The whole community came together to be able to help

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effectively hunt this person down.

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People start contacting Karl with direct sightings of the suspect.

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Somebody had private messaged me to say they'd just seen the guy wearing

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exactly the same clothes, going to a large supermarket.

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There were other people commenting on the post,

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to say that they'd seen him again in the Bognor Regis area.

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Messages about the fugitive keep

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flooding in from other Bognor residents.

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I then received a note from somebody to say that she had just seen the

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man riding his bike down a particular road in Bognor Regis.

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Every report Karl gets, he passes on to the police, and soon

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they catch up with the suspect.

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Within about three hours, I received a call from them to say that,

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"We've just arrested your man," and I was absolutely delighted.

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And the Bognor online community is delighted, too.

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In court, the man pleaded guilty to burglary and attempted burglary.

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Because he was a repeat offender, he was jailed for three years.

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Following the break-in,

0:19:230:19:25

Lara has increased security at the family home even further.

0:19:250:19:28

Max was thrilled that the online search for the man he started had

0:19:280:19:33

-ended in success.

-I did feel a bit proud I'd helped the police.

0:19:330:19:37

He's also learned a valuable lesson.

0:19:370:19:40

When I do get a large amount, straight in my bank account,

0:19:400:19:44

so then nobody can take it again,

0:19:440:19:47

hopefully.

0:19:470:19:49

We just seen a house being broken into, using a brick that was lying

0:19:550:19:58

around. Just like this.

0:19:580:20:01

But another house, with nothing at all around for a burglar to use,

0:20:010:20:03

being left alone.

0:20:030:20:05

So what can we do to make it harder for burglars?

0:20:050:20:08

For example, they may pull a wheelie bin under a higher window to gain

0:20:080:20:13

access to a property.

0:20:130:20:14

So my advice is to be just mindful of where you keep your wheelie bins,

0:20:140:20:18

or secure them, if you can.

0:20:180:20:20

Put obstacles in the way of burglars trying to get to your house.

0:20:200:20:22

It might be a gravel driveway, where you can hear them approaching.

0:20:220:20:25

It might be sharp bushes under windows, which are unpleasant to

0:20:250:20:28

-fall in.

-If you put shutters, Venetian blinds,

0:20:280:20:31

or vertical blinds behind your patio doors,

0:20:310:20:34

it makes it more difficult for the burglar wanting to get into the

0:20:340:20:37

premises, and it takes more time to get out.

0:20:370:20:39

You need to make your house an

0:20:390:20:41

impenetrable fortress from the kerb-side.

0:20:410:20:43

You need to put visual deterrents

0:20:430:20:45

which put people off breaking into your homes.

0:20:450:20:47

That could be even dummies, such as cameras, such as alarm boxes.

0:20:470:20:50

They don't even necessarily need to work, as long as they look real.

0:20:500:20:53

If your house looks occupied,

0:20:530:20:55

then that increases the risk to that criminal of being caught.

0:20:550:20:58

So, leaving automatic lights on, leaving a radio on.

0:20:580:21:02

Anything you can do to make your house look occupied will increase

0:21:020:21:05

the level of risk within that criminal's mind.

0:21:050:21:08

A burglar smashes his way into a shop which sells horse riding

0:21:120:21:15

equipment. He's disguised himself with a Mexican bandit moustache,

0:21:150:21:20

straight out of the movies.

0:21:200:21:23

The outlaw makes off with the till's takings...

0:21:230:21:27

..but little does he know there's a posse on his trail.

0:21:270:21:30

The town of Guiseley in West Yorkshire is surrounded by

0:21:390:21:42

countryside that's excellent for horse riding.

0:21:420:21:46

Anne loves horses so much, she owns two of them,

0:21:460:21:49

and she runs an equestrian shop in the town with the help of her

0:21:490:21:52

husband, Kieran.

0:21:520:21:55

I did have riding lessons as a kid, but I didn't have a pony.

0:21:550:21:58

It was far too expensive.

0:21:580:21:59

So it wasn't until I was an adult, I thought,

0:21:590:22:02

"I'd like to get back into riding."

0:22:020:22:04

Anne used to be an accountant.

0:22:040:22:07

It was a little while after the crash that there was a round of

0:22:070:22:11

redundancies where I worked, and unfortunately I got the...

0:22:110:22:15

It was a tough time,

0:22:150:22:17

but it gave Anne the opportunity to start a new business.

0:22:170:22:20

I know a lot of horsey people,

0:22:200:22:22

and there wasn't a shop like this within a half-hour drive.

0:22:220:22:26

So I thought it might be a good way of spending my redundancy money.

0:22:260:22:30

Anne knew running the shop wouldn't be an easy ride,

0:22:300:22:33

but she's about to face a problem she hadn't seen coming -

0:22:330:22:37

a burglary in broad daylight.

0:22:370:22:39

It's early one summer's morning,

0:22:430:22:45

and Anne and Kieran are woken by a call on her mobile.

0:22:450:22:48

MOBILE PHONE RINGS

0:22:480:22:50

It was the alarm company to say that the alarm had gone off in the shop.

0:22:500:22:54

There's been a break-in. Kieran makes his way to the shop.

0:22:540:22:57

Anne will follow as soon as she's fed their dogs.

0:22:570:23:01

Kieran's worried that burglars could still be there.

0:23:010:23:04

I think it's probably best not to confront these people,

0:23:040:23:07

given my karate skills...

0:23:070:23:09

-Maybe not.

-BURGLAR ALARM

0:23:090:23:13

Kieran arrives to see a hole has been smashed through one of the

0:23:130:23:16

windows, and there's a large stone next to it on the pavement.

0:23:160:23:19

I suspected perhaps some vandalism,

0:23:190:23:22

then I went into the shop and realised it was more than that.

0:23:220:23:25

After checking no intruders are still in the building,

0:23:260:23:29

Kieran sees that the cash drawer, which had contained around £200,

0:23:290:23:34

has been emptied. He calls the police.

0:23:340:23:37

Meanwhile, Anne heads to the shop.

0:23:380:23:41

I did worry about what Kieran was going to find,

0:23:410:23:43

and I was waiting for him to phone, and thinking,

0:23:430:23:45

"Oh, have you been battered over the head by somebody?!"

0:23:450:23:48

She arrives, and is relieved Kieran is OK,

0:23:480:23:51

but her beloved shop has been ransacked.

0:23:510:23:55

I was upset. It's not a pleasant feeling at all.

0:23:550:23:58

You do feel somewhat violated.

0:23:580:24:01

The till has been emptied,

0:24:010:24:03

but it isn't clear what else has happened.

0:24:030:24:05

It just felt very surreal,

0:24:050:24:07

because there was this smashed hole in the window that actually looked

0:24:070:24:10

too small for anyone to get through, and some liquid over the shelves and

0:24:100:24:14

over some of the boot boxes, that we realised was cooking oil,

0:24:140:24:19

from the smell of it.

0:24:190:24:21

They can't fathom why anybody would leave cooking oil in the shop.

0:24:210:24:25

Kieran has already checked their CCTV, but found the recording was

0:24:250:24:29

-unclear.

-Although it was light outside, it was dark inside,

0:24:290:24:33

which is why the CCTV wasn't great,

0:24:330:24:35

but the security company next door came round and mentioned that they'd

0:24:350:24:39

got the whole thing on film.

0:24:390:24:41

When the police arrive,

0:24:430:24:45

officers go to view the security company's footage,

0:24:450:24:47

and this is what they see.

0:24:470:24:49

A man walks across the street and peers through the shop's window.

0:24:520:24:56

Then he walks around the buildings, checking the coast is clear.

0:24:580:25:03

Anne and Kieran notice that he's sporting an unusual line

0:25:030:25:07

in facial hair.

0:25:070:25:09

This guy had what looked like a very obvious Mexican moustache.

0:25:090:25:13

We weren't sure whether it could even be his own moustache,

0:25:140:25:18

but he did seem to keep putting his hand up to his face,

0:25:180:25:22

so that might have indicated it was a false moustache.

0:25:220:25:24

The man then pulls out a small crowbar and levers off a metal panel

0:25:260:25:30

under the window, but he can't get in.

0:25:300:25:33

So he goes and gets a heavy rock.

0:25:360:25:38

You're thinking, "He must be quite strong."

0:25:390:25:42

He throws it hard at the window and kicks the glass through.

0:25:420:25:46

He tries to make the hole bigger with his hand, but quickly pulls it

0:25:460:25:50

-out.

-He does seem to hold his hand in a way that you think,

0:25:500:25:54

"He's hurt himself."

0:25:540:25:56

The man comes back a moment later and puts gloves on.

0:25:580:26:01

Then he clambers through the hole.

0:26:010:26:03

He was very agile and quick.

0:26:040:26:06

Inside, the man forces the till open,

0:26:080:26:11

steals the cash drawer and puts it in a bag,

0:26:110:26:14

and then he leaves.

0:26:140:26:15

But how did the cooking oil end up in the shop?

0:26:170:26:20

Staff at the security company think they've solved the mystery.

0:26:210:26:24

They spot that, later, a suspicious-looking man arrives at

0:26:260:26:30

the scene of the crime with a watering can full of oil.

0:26:300:26:33

They believe it's the burglar.

0:26:330:26:35

They think he may have come back to pour oil over the broken glass, to

0:26:350:26:39

mask any traces of blood.

0:26:390:26:41

But during his attempt at a cover-up, he actually reveals

0:26:410:26:44

-himself.

-When he returned to put the oil through the window,

0:26:440:26:47

he had taken the disguise off.

0:26:470:26:49

The police officers can now get a clear view of the man without his

0:26:510:26:54

hoodie and oversized moustache.

0:26:540:26:57

And that's not all - it turns out that the oil-pouring idea was a case

0:26:570:27:01

of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

0:27:010:27:05

One of my staff members had noticed that there was some blood staining

0:27:050:27:08

on some papers under the counter.

0:27:080:27:11

Blood must have seeped through the burglar's gloves as he was rummaging

0:27:110:27:15

near the till. A forensic officer takes a swab.

0:27:150:27:18

We were very pleased, because the fact they've got blood is probably

0:27:180:27:21

the best bit of evidence that you could find,

0:27:210:27:23

because it would enable them to name the guy straightaway if he was on

0:27:230:27:26

-their records.

-And he is on their records.

0:27:260:27:30

The man is soon arrested.

0:27:300:27:32

Because of the video and DNA evidence against him,

0:27:320:27:35

he realises there's no disguising the truth.

0:27:350:27:38

In court, the thief pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary,

0:27:420:27:46

possession of cannabis, and numerous driving offences.

0:27:460:27:50

He was sentenced to two years in prison, and, for the driving

0:27:500:27:53

offences, banned from driving for three years after his release.

0:27:530:27:57

The repair bill after the burglary came to £1,000.

0:28:010:28:04

After increasing the shop's security, Anne and Kieran have now

0:28:040:28:08

put the break-in well and truly behind them.

0:28:080:28:11

Being burgled hasn't affected my enjoyment of running this business.

0:28:110:28:14

We're carrying on. We're coming into our busiest season of the year,

0:28:140:28:17

and I'm very much looking forward to that.

0:28:170:28:20

That's it for today. And that's it for a few more criminals

0:28:260:28:29

who've been Caught Red Handed.

0:28:290:28:31

At a jeweller's, a man wearing a comical wig turns deadly serious. And a hard-hearted thief is trapped after ransacking children's bedrooms.