Episode 2 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 2

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A carer steals from a former member of the royal household.


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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 are fighting crime

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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, "We've got her!"

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And I was so happy. Thank God!

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So anyone who's up to no good had better think twice.

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They might just get caught red-handed.

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Today, David used to work for the royal family,

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who were so fond of him, they gave him an award.

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But that doesn't matter at all to this carer,

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who just sees him as someone to steal from.

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My dad said, "That's my money. Get that back. She's got my money."

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I said, "We'll have to phone the police, Dad.

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"This is actually a crime."

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Despite being filmed raiding David's wallet,

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the woman pleads not guilty and the family's ordeal is far from over.

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Also today, when Trevor opened a restaurant,

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he hoped to get customers interested in his rare cheeses.

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But it turns out, he also attracts a rat.

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Or is it a snake?

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What I saw next literally made my skin crawl.

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It's like something you would see out of a movie.

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And when Alan gets a job working the late shift

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at a local petrol station, he's expecting a quiet time.

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But then, one night, he's attacked by an armed robber

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and he has the fight of his life.

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He said to me, "Open your till or I'm going to stab you."

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I thought, "No, I'm not doing nothing.

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"You're going to have to force ME."

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The robber is so confused by Alan's resistance,

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he just grabs some beer cans and blunders off.

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And "blunders" is the right word.

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There are nearly 12 million people over the age of 65 in the UK

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and that number is growing every year.

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Many pensioners rely on the help of carers

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and, whilst the vast majority of carers are honest,

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sadly, some are not.

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David Skerritt from Littlehampton once had a very famous boss -

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well, about as famous as it gets -

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Her Majesty the Queen.

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He was the royal family's television engineer,

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installing and repairing their TVs.

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The Queen was so impressed with David's work,

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she awarded him the Royal Victorian Medal

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at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 1991.

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It was a proud moment for David and his family,

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fondly remembered by his daughter, Joanne.

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It meant everything to Dad because he'd worked so hard

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and to be praised like that by the Queen, you can't get better.

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He was so proud of it.

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David was a self-made man, after the toughest of starts in life.

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Orphaned at an early age,

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he was brought up in a children's home in London.

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He was fiercely independent because of growing up in a home.

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He couldn't wait to have his own life.

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He became an electrical engineer

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and he met my mum

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because they worked in a shop two doors away from each other

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and mum was a hairdresser and they met, fell in love and that was it.

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They were inseparable.

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Sadly, David recently passed away.

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His family have said, though, that they want us to tell people

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about him and the events that happened in his final weeks.

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He was generous, kind, really hard-working.

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I mean, he just never took a day off work in his life.

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Anything you needed, he was there.

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As he neared retirement, David and Patricia decided

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to move to the south coast near Littlehampton.

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That was their dream, was to have a house by the sea,

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and that's when it became obvious she wasn't well.

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In 2006, Patricia was diagnosed with ovarian cancer

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and, after a long battle, she passed away at the age of 63.

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Dad wouldn't talk about it,

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wouldn't talk about it at all,

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because I think that he didn't want to accept that she was ill.

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He certainly didn't accept she died.

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David later developed Parkinson's disease

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and struggled to look after himself.

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The Parkinson's took so much away from him -

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his perception, his mobility and his dexterity.

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Joanne and her husband, Chris, would visit whenever they could.

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But they lived over 100 miles away,

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so David's local social services set up a care package.

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A number of carers would visit him four times a day.

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Carers coming into the bungalow was fantastic news for my dad.

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He really responded well. He used to look forward to the carers.

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He loved it.

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But David often had bad falls when his carers weren't there,

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so Joanne installed a CCTV camera,

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hoping it might help improve his safety.

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Right, you had a fall then, let's go through.

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Oh, that's where you had your fall and that's why, Dad.

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But that CCTV camera is to prove its value in a totally unexpected way

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when, out of the blue, David's money starts to disappear.

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PHONE RINGS

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It's a Wednesday morning

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and Joanne receives a worrying phone call from her dad.

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He phoned me to say that his wallet had been stripped

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and he had no money.

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David had just come out of hospital

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after a fortnight receiving treatment.

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Joanne calls them to report her dad's missing money.

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They said, "No, all that was signed out of the safe

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"was an empty wallet with a card in it."

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While the hospital is investigating the missing cash,

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Joanne and husband, Chris, go to see her dad,

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and Chris takes a look at CCTV camera footage.

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Chris went, "Oh, my God! What's she doing?"

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Chris is looking at a recording from three weeks earlier,

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before David went into hospital.

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One of his new carers has just arrived to give him a wash.

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David makes his way through to the bedroom.

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As soon as he walks past her, the woman starts looking round the room.

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She is actually looking for money she can steal.

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She checks the side of the chair where David keeps his wallet,

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then she stares at his trouser pockets.

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The woman keeps suggesting to David

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that he should sit on a commode,

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even though he's said he doesn't want to.

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She seems to want him out of the sitting room as long as possible.

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The moment his back is turned, she comes into the room

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and reaches straight for David's bag.

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She finds his wallet and takes out £130...

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..puts the notes onto the chair...

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..then rummages through his bag some more.

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Not finding anything else, she stuffs the money into her bra.

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But she isn't finished yet.

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She starts looking under ornaments on a cabinet shelf,

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including an urn that contains the ashes of David's wife, Patricia...

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..all the while leaving David unattended in the bedroom -

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something his other carers have never done.

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Realising there's nothing else to steal,

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she finally goes back into the bedroom to check on David.

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Chris, Joanne and her dad can't believe

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what the camera has captured.

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Shocked, completely, you know.

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We just all sat there and my dad said,

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"That's my money. Get that back. She's got my money."

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I said, "We'll have to phone the police, Dad.

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"This is actually a crime."

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As well as reporting her to the police, they inform her employers.

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The care agency sacked the carer immediately and she denied theft.

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The woman tells the police

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that David had said she could take £10 from his wallet.

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She decides to plead not guilty

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and the long wait before the court case

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proves highly upsetting for David.

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He completely broke down because we'd reported it to the police.

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He thought someone was going to come round, smash his windows in,

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beat him up. He felt vulnerable, really badly.

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It was the fragility of the situation he was in.

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He couldn't sleep. It made him completely paranoid.

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And two weeks after that, he went into hospital and never came out.

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David's health continued to decline in hospital

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over the next 12 months

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and, after succumbing to a chest infection, he passed away.

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Months later, Joanne finds herself in court,

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facing the woman who stole from her dad.

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To be made to go through something like that

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when you've just lost your father as well was...

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I had to sit in court and watch that video.

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My legs went, I couldn't stand up.

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It was the worst thing I've ever had to go through in my life.

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She chose to take the witness box and stand and lie

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and everybody saw through her because she was lying.

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The jury found the woman guilty.

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She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

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She was ordered to complete 260 hours of unpaid work

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and 10 days of rehabilitation.

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I just felt, thank God, you know. Yes!

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The woman may have been able to take David's money

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but she couldn't take away the wonderful memories

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Joanne has of her dad's life.

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Dad was amazing. The Queen Mum would call him David.

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He was part of the household and he was really, really proud of that.

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Wow, you know.

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Thieves can often go to extraordinary lengths.

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But it's still a shock to see this man roll up outside a house

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in a wheelchair at 1.30 AM and start smashing its window with a hammer.

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Nobody's in but a hidden surveillance camera is recording.

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The man finds a novel use for his chair's removable cushion,

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protecting himself from glass left in the frame,

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as he slides himself through.

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It's all rather awkward, which is no surprise,

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when it turns out this intruder only has one leg.

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It dawns on him that he's going to have a lot of trouble

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getting around in here.

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His solution? To bring his wheelchair in as well.

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It turns out this man wants to wreak revenge on a landlord

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and, as well as stealing a large-screen TV, he takes time out

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to disconnect a washing machine to deliberately flood the place.

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But he's done this in full view of a camera

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and, for fairly obvious reasons,

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it isn't too hard for police to whittle down the list of suspects.

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The thief's soon arrested and for this and other offences,

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he has to wheel himself off to prison for 26 months.

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A late-night burglar wriggles, snakelike,

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to avoid activating a restaurant alarm system.

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He thinks he's quids in when he finds a safe.

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But he's been caught on camera and, when he opens the safe,

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he's in for an unpleasant surprise.

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Westbourne is a fashionable suburb of Bournemouth that's well-known

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for its independent boutique shops and eateries.

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Trevor came here three years ago to set up a restaurant with a twist -

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a cheese twist - specialising in a wide variety of cheeses

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from all over the world.

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It was his first dip into the restaurant trade

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and Trevor was nervous about how his new business venture would go.

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I literally cried.

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I lost weight, I was the most stressed I'd ever been

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and, leading up to the days of the opening,

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I was like, "Why have I invested everything

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"into something like this? Nobody is going to come

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"and want cheese and wine. It's just a ridiculous idea."

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And I was wrong.

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Renoufs is an extension of my home.

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It's very family, close feel to it,

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and Westbourne is a fantastic suburb.

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The business owners in the area are a close-knit group.

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John runs a coffee lounge and chocolate shop

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a few doors down from Trevor.

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We all know each other and we chat to each other during the day

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and we can solve little issues that we have.

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They call it the Village, the village community,

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which is lovely, really. Got a good feel.

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But one night, the Village is left with a nasty taste in its mouth,

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when a burglar targets Trevor's restaurant.

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It's a Sunday morning, and Trevor's taking a day off at home.

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But his neighbour, John, has come in early

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to open up his coffee shop nearby.

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I was on my way to say hello to all the other shopkeepers and that

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and I was walking past Renoufs

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and I noticed the window on the door panel had been broken.

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John calls Trevor to let him know about his broken door

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and Trevor drives straight down to investigate.

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There was lots going through my mind in that five-minute journey.

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When Trevor arrives, he's faced with a mystery.

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The restaurant alarm hasn't been triggered

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and everything looks normal, apart from the broken panel.

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He comes to the conclusion it's a case of vandalism.

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It's just some mindless thug that's smashed the window

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and he's done a runner.

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But then he sees that the broken glass has been moved

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away from the doorway and carefully put into a neat pile.

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Determined to solve the mystery, Trevor checks his CCTV recording.

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What I saw next literally made my skin crawl.

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Trevor copies the recording onto his mobile phone.

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The security camera has picked up a man

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slowly squeezing through the hole in the smashed door panel.

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Trevor has a smart alarm system that has movement sensors,

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but the intruder thinks he can outsmart it by staying low,

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slithering across the floor like a snake to avoid triggering the alarm.

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It's scary. It is quite a scary vision of this guy,

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like something you'd see out of a movie.

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The intruder crawls behind the bar,

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goes to a cupboard in the corner and flashes a cigarette lighter.

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At first I think he's in the corner to set fire to the place.

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He's got a vendetta for some reason and it's quite mortifying.

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But the man is actually trying to light up the dark room,

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so he can find cash to steal.

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And bingo - he finds a safe.

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I don't think he's realised that this safe just acts as a cupboard

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to store our vouchers in.

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Probably thinking it contains the entire weekend's takings,

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the burglar slowly pushes the safe back towards the door.

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It brought me a little bit of satisfaction,

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knowing that this guy is going to be hacking away at a safe all day

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to end up with some vouchers to come and buy some cheese and wine.

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Trevor calls the police, who soon arrive.

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They examine the CCTV pictures and dust for fingerprints

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but there isn't enough evidence to identify the burglar.

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They were going to contact the council,

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ask for the street CCTV footage,

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see if they can tie anything in there and they would be in touch.

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The next day, the emptied safe is found nearby.

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Trevor may have got his safe back

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but he still finds it hard to come to terms with the burglary.

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When you've been a victim of this kind of crime,

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it creates a sense of paranoia.

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You're looking at people, you're looking at everybody,

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and it really sends you into this paranoia of,

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is this a safe place to be? When you set out originally, it was,

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and it really knocks you back.

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Trevor's determined to fight back.

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He installs new alarms and cameras

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and then turns his attention to try to identify the burglar.

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I thought I'd make a little video myself.

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I posted it on Facebook and it went viral.

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Over the next two days,

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local business owners, customers and friends share the video.

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Trevor putting it on social media

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and getting everyone involved was a really good thing.

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It puts a warning out there that we do look out for each other.

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A fortnight later, Trevor gets some good news.

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Although his CCTV didn't actually reveal the thief's face,

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it was put together with evidence

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from council street cameras outside, which did,

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and the police have recognised the burglar.

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The police were really good. They positively ID-ed the burglar.

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They told us to remove the footage from Facebook.

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They didn't want this burglar to see the footage on Facebook

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and then not return home, so we took it down.

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A few days later, Trevor gets more good news.

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It was the most refreshing thing I'd heard.

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They'd made an arrest and this guy's been taken off the streets.

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It's the end of his reign.

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It turned out that breaking into Trevor's business

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wasn't this man's only crime.

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In court, he pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary

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and was sentenced to two years in prison.

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Trevor is delighted with the result

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and is now well and truly over the burglary.

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From receiving the phone call from John

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to the response on Facebook,

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it's all about people getting involved

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and hoping, in the long run, that justice is done.

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There's a growing trend to post CCTV of criminals on social media.

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But sometimes that's not always the best thing to do,

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especially if it tips off the crook they've been caught on camera.

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So, when is it best to post and when is it best to avoid?

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Social media is a great way of reaching out

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to a large number of people very quickly, but talk to us.

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Let's work out what's the best thing we can do together

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to identify the individual who may have committed a crime against you.

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Wide circulation of CCTV on social media can severely weaken a case

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because you may get multiple identifications,

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a number of suspects identified,

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and that can weaken the case against the actual suspect in the long run.

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If an image has been circulated on social media,

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the defence solicitor could argue

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that their client cannot get a fair trial

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because so much information is already in the public domain.

0:20:030:20:05

If they think that the image has been circulated widely,

0:20:050:20:08

they might suggest that the person recognising the offender

0:20:080:20:12

is recognising them from social media

0:20:120:20:14

and not from the actual crime itself.

0:20:140:20:17

Unfortunately, we have seen cases in the past,

0:20:170:20:18

where the wrong person's name has been linked to a photograph

0:20:180:20:21

and people have come to harm, as a result of that mix-up.

0:20:210:20:25

Contact your local police force.

0:20:250:20:27

That way the police can release the images over social media

0:20:270:20:30

and the police will have management of that crime.

0:20:300:20:33

A robber thinks he has

0:20:380:20:39

his late-night raid on a petrol station planned to perfection.

0:20:390:20:43

But he reckons without an uncooperative cashier,

0:20:440:20:47

an uncooperative door...

0:20:470:20:49

..and an uncooperative plastic bin.

0:20:520:20:55

The coastal market town of Hythe in Kent.

0:21:050:21:09

Alan moved here from the Greater London area a few years ago

0:21:090:21:12

with his wife, Karen, and their pet dog, Nala.

0:21:120:21:16

Life hasn't always been easy for Alan.

0:21:160:21:19

After a career on the railway, he suffered a spell of unemployment,

0:21:190:21:23

so he came to Hythe to get his life back on track.

0:21:230:21:26

We came down here and I wasn't actually looking for shop work.

0:21:260:21:30

I just got friendly with one of the local grocery shops

0:21:310:21:34

and, bit by bit, I ended up doing little jobs.

0:21:340:21:38

Work was difficult to come by,

0:21:380:21:40

but Alan also managed to get a job at a petrol station.

0:21:400:21:43

I was originally employed to stock shelves but the till work,

0:21:430:21:47

I took to that like a duck to water

0:21:470:21:50

and, within a week, I ended up doing night work.

0:21:500:21:53

Alan worked alone from 10.00 PM to 6.00 AM.

0:21:530:21:57

I thought, "It's going to be a long night,"

0:21:570:22:00

but it goes, cos you've got so many things to do.

0:22:000:22:02

The good part, you do meet lots of people.

0:22:020:22:05

Alan's fresh start in Hythe was going well,

0:22:050:22:09

but then, one night, it suddenly came under threat,

0:22:090:22:12

when an armed man tries to rob the store

0:22:120:22:15

and Alan must decide between fight and flight.

0:22:150:22:19

It's 1.30 AM and the security cameras at the garage are showing

0:22:240:22:28

no cars on the forecourt and Alan is on his own inside.

0:22:280:22:32

We had a very quiet spell.

0:22:320:22:34

It was about quarter to two and a customer just walks in.

0:22:340:22:39

The man enters the shop and goes to the counter.

0:22:390:22:42

He asked for a bottle of vodka.

0:22:430:22:45

Alan sells this customer the vodka, just a normal transaction.

0:22:470:22:51

But there's nothing normal

0:22:510:22:52

about the next man to arrive at the garage.

0:22:520:22:55

At first I thought it was just a customer coming round to the drinks.

0:22:550:22:58

Most people buy drinks at about two o'clock in the morning.

0:22:580:23:01

But this man wants more than booze.

0:23:010:23:03

As he enters, he pulls his hat down over his face.

0:23:030:23:07

It's a type of balaclava that must restrict his vision

0:23:070:23:10

because he bumps into a cabinet.

0:23:100:23:13

It's almost comical,

0:23:130:23:14

but this situation is about to become far from amusing.

0:23:140:23:19

The man goes to a door behind the counter where Alan is standing,

0:23:190:23:23

then suddenly bursts through it.

0:23:230:23:25

I looked around and I see the customer with a knife

0:23:270:23:30

and a baseball bat in his arms.

0:23:300:23:32

The man brandishes the knife in Alan's face.

0:23:320:23:35

He had a big black facemask on. All you could see was his eyes.

0:23:350:23:39

And he said to me, "Open your till or I'm going to stab you."

0:23:390:23:42

But Alan doesn't follow the man's orders.

0:23:420:23:45

Showing great courage, he decides to stand up to the armed robber.

0:23:450:23:50

I thought, "No, I'm not doing nothing.

0:23:510:23:53

"You're going to have to force ME."

0:23:530:23:55

I think it gobsmacked him.

0:23:550:23:58

I think he was expecting me to open the till willy-nilly.

0:23:580:24:00

The armed man starts to become angry.

0:24:000:24:03

He just said, "You ARE going to open the till."

0:24:040:24:07

But I ain't, and I won't open for anyone.

0:24:070:24:09

He was definitely on edge and I thought,

0:24:090:24:12

"This is going to get worse before it gets better."

0:24:120:24:14

Alan makes a split-second decision.

0:24:140:24:17

I just grabbed my moment.

0:24:190:24:20

He snatches the balaclava from the robber's head,

0:24:200:24:24

so he and the CCTV cameras can see the man's face.

0:24:240:24:28

But the robber retaliates.

0:24:280:24:30

I was struck on the head about here.

0:24:300:24:32

I didn't feel no pain.

0:24:320:24:34

I suppose the adrenaline just took in, but I was still standing,

0:24:340:24:37

and I think I shocked him to the point where he said,

0:24:370:24:40

"I've got to get out of here."

0:24:400:24:42

Alan's brave resistance does the trick

0:24:420:24:44

and the man runs out in panic, trying to hide his face.

0:24:440:24:48

But he still can't resist nabbing some beers on the way out,

0:24:480:24:51

and then promptly runs straight into the door.

0:24:510:24:55

And even more comically, outside, he drops a can, picks it up,

0:24:560:25:01

and then runs headlong into a bright green rubbish bin.

0:25:010:25:04

He hits it with such force

0:25:080:25:10

that he rebounds several feet and spills the beer.

0:25:100:25:14

The man who earlier bought the vodka is still at the petrol station

0:25:160:25:19

and calmly grabs the opportunity

0:25:190:25:22

to help himself to several cans as he leaves.

0:25:220:25:25

Alan continues to protect his garage,

0:25:260:25:28

bravely coming out to chase the armed robber away,

0:25:280:25:32

while on the phone to the police.

0:25:320:25:34

After his attacker has fled,

0:25:360:25:38

Alan suddenly realises the extreme danger he's been in.

0:25:380:25:42

I just cried my eyes out.

0:25:420:25:44

It only lasted about a few seconds

0:25:460:25:48

but I suppose it's the relief it's all over.

0:25:480:25:51

The police arrive

0:25:520:25:53

and Detective Constable Carl Evans analyses the CCTV recording.

0:25:530:25:58

That must have been terrifying for Alan.

0:25:580:26:00

He's within less than a metre of him.

0:26:000:26:02

I suspect Alan was pretty scared, terrified in fact.

0:26:020:26:06

Alan gives the police the balaclava

0:26:060:26:09

that he snatched from the robber's head

0:26:090:26:11

and remembers an important detail.

0:26:110:26:14

I said, "His saliva will be on the face bit, around here."

0:26:140:26:17

There's a chance that the man spat on the balaclava

0:26:170:26:20

when he was shouting at Alan.

0:26:200:26:22

Saliva's a good source for DNA evidence.

0:26:220:26:26

Whilst we can't condone that victims put themselves in danger,

0:26:260:26:29

Alan's actions in grabbing the mask was able to secure us

0:26:290:26:34

key evidence in this case.

0:26:340:26:35

Although there are glimpses of the armed man's face on CCTV,

0:26:350:26:40

the images on their own aren't clear enough to identify him.

0:26:400:26:44

But soon Carl and his team get a tip-off from locals,

0:26:440:26:47

who'd seen a man acting suspiciously in town that night.

0:26:470:26:51

That leads to a possible name for the robber.

0:26:510:26:54

We checked that name on the police database

0:26:560:26:59

and it was a known offender, so our investigation took that path.

0:26:590:27:03

The man goes into hiding but, after a fortnight,

0:27:030:27:06

he surfaces and he's arrested.

0:27:060:27:09

Whilst he was in custody,

0:27:120:27:14

we received the results back from the lab on the balaclava,

0:27:140:27:17

and there was DNA of the offender on there.

0:27:170:27:20

With DNA evidence clearly placing him at the scene,

0:27:200:27:24

the man had more than a rubbish bin to worry about.

0:27:240:27:27

In the Crown Court, the man pleaded guilty to attempted robbery

0:27:310:27:35

and threatening a person with a blade in a public place.

0:27:350:27:39

He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

0:27:390:27:42

Despite the trauma of that night,

0:27:450:27:47

Alan's new start in Hythe continues to go well,

0:27:470:27:50

and when he attended the robber's court hearing,

0:27:500:27:52

his courage during the ordeal was recognised in a very special way.

0:27:520:27:57

When I got the High Sheriff's Award,

0:27:570:27:59

everyone in the courtroom just stood up and clapped

0:27:590:28:03

and I just...

0:28:030:28:05

I just started...started crying a bit.

0:28:050:28:09

It was a really proud moment. My family were with me.

0:28:090:28:12

Just one of those moments in your life you look back on.

0:28:120:28:15

Just happy.

0:28:150:28:17

That's it for today.

0:28:230:28:24

And that's it for a few more criminals

0:28:240:28:26

who've been caught red-handed.

0:28:260:28:28

A carer steals from a former member of the royal household, a deli specialising in cheese attracts a local rat, and an armed robber who attacks a petrol station gets more than he bargained for.