Episode 20 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 20

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A clumsy crook trying to cut it as a burglar ends up cutting his hand badly.


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Transcript


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Thieves will steal our will cash, our cars, our valuables -

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just about anything they can get their hands on.

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But now, the police are using cutting-edge technology to catch the bad guys.

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We want to make sure we've got a concrete case.

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Enough evidence to convict at court.

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Local councils, shops,

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and businesses 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 that 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, armed men have been caught on CCTV carrying out a spate of

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robberies in Greater Manchester.

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Their next target - the corner shop where Dilip and Ian work.

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I was just in shock, really. He was shouting, "Get back, get back".

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I am very, very scared. I said, "What do you want, what do you want?"

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He said, "Open the till."

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The robbers wear balaclavas, because they know they're on camera.

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But they don't know a posse of police is waiting round the corner.

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Also today - Eamonn, who's been blind since birth,

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is convinced someone is sneaking into his flat to steal his money.

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I was living in fear, because I knew someone was coming in,

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and I knew I had to catch them.

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So Eamonn hatches a plan -

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to use an electronic eye to see what his own eyes cannot.

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Also later...

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This ham-fisted felon clearly thinks he can cut it as a burglar.

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Well, he can certainly cut something -

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when putting his elbow through a window ends with a trip to A&E.

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Millions of people in this country work in retail

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and they get used to all sorts of people coming in and out of their shops.

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But armed men with knives and a machete?

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That's a different thing altogether.

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In Altrinchcam, Greater Manchester,

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there's a corner shop where Ian and Dilip work.

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Ian, who grew up in the area,

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has been at the store for two and a half years.

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He's earning money while studying for a marketing degree with the Open University.

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I feel like this job's brought me out of my shell a bit more.

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Interacting with people made it a bit easier for me.

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It's something I used to struggle with a little.

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Dilip has worked at the store since he moved here from France in 2002.

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I like to work in this store.

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I see all the regular customers. They say, "Hello, how are you doing?"

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Nice people.

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The pair have become close mates.

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Me and him, good friends, because he's a good worker.

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Good nature, you know.

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Dilip's full of life.

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He's cheeky, he's funny - he's just a loving family man.

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Ian and Dilip have never experienced any trouble in the store,

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but other retailers in the town haven't been so lucky.

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I'd heard of a robbery near my home. It does play in your mind,

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but I guess I never really imagined that they'd come in the shop.

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You don't expect that sort of thing, really.

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But Ian and Dilip are about to face a robbery of the worst sort -

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an attack by an armed gang wielding knives and a machete.

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It's an evening in winter.

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The shop CCTV camera shows that Dilip and Ian are busy.

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They've just come on shift.

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The day started like any other day,

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just looking forward to working with Dilip,

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seeing what he'd been up to,

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then getting on the till and speaking to the customers.

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After the evening rush dies down,

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Dilip leaves the till to stock the shelves.

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Outside, a street security camera shows a car pulling up near the shop,

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and then it parks around the corner, out of sight.

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Moments later, a man emerges and walks to the shop,

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and then, two other men appear with a package. They open it...

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..and take out a machete!

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They run to the store.

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When the first man arrives at the door, Ian looks up,

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not realising what's happening.

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I thought it was a joke.

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I know there's a few pranksters in the area that like to have a little bit of a laugh.

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But it's no joke.

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Suddenly, all three robbers burst in.

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I was just in shock to see someone with a weapon in their hand.

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He was shouting "Get back, get back!"

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One of the men jumps over the counter.

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Dilip, who is in another part of the store, can hear the shouting

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but can't see what's happening.

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Somebody running, and I'm thinking, kids. I said, "Who...?

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"Who is this?"

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The man with the machete runs towards Dilip.

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I'm very, very scared. I say, "What do you want? What do you want?"

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He says, "Open the till. Go to behind counter."

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Dilip bravely refuses and runs away from the man.

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Ian sees what's happening from a distance, but is powerless to intervene.

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I was worried for Dilip, wondering what's happening to him.

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The machete man catches up with Dilip, who shoves him away,

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and tries to keep him at a distance.

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The third robber, who is carrying a large kitchen knife,

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is keeping watch in the doorway.

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Meanwhile, Ian is being pushed towards the small office behind the counter.

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The person that was stuck with me asked me to open the back room.

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The robber thinks there's cash in that room,

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and he isn't willing to wait for Ian to open it.

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He just tried kicking the door.

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The cameras behind the counter show that the man with the machete

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has now cornered Dilip, who is near the till.

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He said, "Can you open the till?" I say, "OK."

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But Dilip doesn't open it.

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Instead, he makes a courageous decision to press a panic button.

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This infuriates the robber.

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He shoves Dilip, who falls backwards,

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smashing his head into some light switches,

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and plunging the shop into darkness.

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Dilip now has a nasty gash on his head, caused by hitting the switches.

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I put my hand, my finger here, I press it. I...blood, you know.

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And I'm very, very scared this time. Very scared.

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Ian can't see what's happened,

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but he's heard the commotion when Dilip was knocked down.

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It was definitely worrying to think,

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wow, he could've hit him with a machete.

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The frustrated robbers scream at Dilip to open the tills and give them cash.

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It looks like they're about to snap. Anything could happen.

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Later, the robbers get a shock.

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They find themselves in the middle of a major police operation.

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This pair of hapless and hopeless housebreakers

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may look like a couple of students who've lost their keys,

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but they're actually casing the joint.

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One of them is so relaxed as he casually checks out the easiest way

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to break in, he takes a phone call with one hand,

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while holding his drinks bottle in the other.

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He's Mr oh-so-cool, but not for long -

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because he's about to make a schoolboy error,

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using his elbow to break the window by the front door.

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He doesn't seem to realise broken glass can be sharp -

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because when he tries a third time,

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he cuts himself!

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So, with his red drinks bottle in one hand,

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and now a nasty cut in the other, this lad's caught red-handed -

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quite literally.

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His mate tries to use their swag bag as a makeshift bandage,

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but fumbles the first aid.

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The panic-stricken pair then leg it.

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The police have caught up with one of them, while the other

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is still being hunted.

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It's time they realise they're not cut out for a life of crime.

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A concierge working at an apartment block creeps into one of the flats.

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He goes straight to a money box and steals the cash inside.

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The thief thinks he won't be spotted,

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because the man who lives here is blind.

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But this sneaky burglar has underestimated his victim,

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who has other ways of keeping an eye on things.

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40-year-old Eamonn moved to Liverpool ten years ago.

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Though he's been blind since birth,

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Eamonn has forged a career in the civil service and leads an independent life.

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Nothing stops me from doing the things that I want to do.

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And that includes playing sport.

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Eamonn helps run an organisation called Sports and Activities for the Visually Impaired.

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I'm really proud, because it isn't just about me playing sport -

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it's about enabling others to do the same.

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Eamonn is also proud about recently becoming a homeowner for the first time.

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I purchased this flat just over a year ago.

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It's concierged 24 hours a day, so that basically means in layman's terms,

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there's a man or a lady on the front desk.

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And one of the key reasons why I made the purchase

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was because it had that element of security attached to it.

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But the very reason Eamonn felt secure at these flats

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was soon to make him feel very insecure indeed.

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It's winter, early evening.

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Eamonn comes home from the sports club

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and notices some cash has disappeared.

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When I went back and looked for the money I'd left on the table,

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it wasn't there. And I was sort of like...

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There's no-one been in. No-one could have moved it.

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I asked my cleaner to have a look.

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She couldn't find it and I just thought, well, it's one of those things.

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But in the weeks that follow,

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Eamonn notices money repeatedly going missing from his savings tin.

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I started to think, I am either losing my mind,

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or there's too much going wrong

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and what I do is, I collect money for specific occasions.

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The highlight of Eamonn's year is the Cheltenham horse racing festival.

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This year, I'd arranged to go there with a friend of mine.

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We'd booked accommodation. I was really looking forward to the races.

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But when he goes to his tin to count his betting money,

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Eamonn gets a shock.

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Literally, there was nothing there.

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Like just coppers.

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It was really light. And I was like, "No, no, no, this hasn't happened."

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I haven't took the money. I haven't... What's going on, like?

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Eamonn cancels his long-awaited trip to Cheltenham.

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He is now certain someone is stealing from him.

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My first instinct was just to stop collecting the money and hide the tin and hear no more about it.

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Then I thought to myself, well, if I'm right and this is happening to me,

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then ultimately, the only winner is the person who's taken the money -

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because I can't keep money in my own bedroom and feel safe.

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So I thought at first, change the locks, do this, do that.

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And I thought, that doesn't actually solve the problem.

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I need to solve the problem. I need to understand who is doing this.

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I knew it was someone who was either very close to me or was in a position of trust.

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Eamonn racks his brains, thinking who the thief could be,

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and then realises the apartment block's concierges have keys to all the flats,

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and Eamonn feels suspicious about one concierge in particular.

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They were always asking questions about where I was going,

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and where I'd been. You know, you make conversation with people, but you start to think,

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actually, are they asking too many questions here?

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Eamonn becomes increasingly worried and fearful.

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I did start to struggle to sleep and I did start to wonder if any noise

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was related to someone coming in.

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You know, they're just coming in as they like, so, you know,

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are they going to get more brave, are they going to do more?

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I think it's the first time in a long time that I've actually thought

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about being blind and being weak as a result of that

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and maybe that's why I felt so scared and vulnerable as soon as it happened to me,

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because those feelings were brought into play. I don't know.

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But Eamonn isn't going to be beaten.

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He hatches a plan to catch the thief.

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Stage one - asking a friend to add up exactly how much money is in the tin.

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I actually asked someone separate to me to count it,

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to ensure there was no ambiguity.

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Stage two - going away for the weekend, leaving £135 in the tin.

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When he returns two days later, over half the money is gone -

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and there's no sign of a break-in.

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I got my friend to count the money again.

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That was my concrete proof that I was being stolen from and it was someone using a key.

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So Eamonn moves onto the next stage of his plan -

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using his audio narration computer to find a security company to install a spy camera.

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He wants to get video evidence he can take to the police.

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Being a blind man, looking for CCTV is probably not something

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that I ever thought that I would have to do.

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So I took a couple of weeks to get that all set up and in place.

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A security consultant comes and installs a cleverly disguised camera.

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In a perverse way, I was really quite excited.

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I'm going to catch this person out,

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and finally stop this from happening to me.

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The next night, that particular concierge is on duty.

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Eamonn goes out and tells the man he won't be back for several hours.

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The spy camera is activated whenever it senses motion.

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And it isn't long before it triggers into record mode.

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Eamonn's bedroom door opens

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and in walks the concierge he has his doubts about.

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He goes straight to Eamonn's money tin and starts pocketing cash.

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The concierge carefully picks out the coins that have the most value.

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When he decides he's stolen enough, he leaves,

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with one final glance back,

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perhaps to check he's left the tin exactly as he found it.

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Eamonn returns a few hours later.

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I got back and the concierge was sort of there -

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"Hello, mate. How are you doing? Where have you been? What have you been up to?"

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Sort of... There he was, larger-than-life.

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And I couldn't wait to get into the lift,

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but still trying to be personable.

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As soon as he gets inside his flat, Eamonn counts the money in the tin.

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£20 has been taken.

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I knew that my CCTV was up there and it had captured all that I needed,

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and I was really frustrated that I couldn't just have a look and see who it was.

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Eamonn can't wait to find out exactly what's happened.

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He calls in the security expert who fitted the camera.

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The consultant came and reviewed the footage with me and obviously,

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we identified who it was.

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He now has clear-cut video evidence of who has been stealing from him.

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I was relieved that it was him and I was relieved that I was right.

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Eamonn calls in the police,

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but the concierge somehow gets wind that he is wanted and disappears.

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He must have realised that he wasn't going to get away with it because a

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week later, he hands himself in.

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Eamonn has got his man.

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It angers me that someone thought that I was so stupid.

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Someone thought that I wouldn't realise that something was happening to me.

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And they thought that even if I did,

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I'd be too weak to do something about it.

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The good news is, though - I knew I was going to have the last laugh,

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because the one way that he never thought that he would get caught would be through sight -

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and that's exactly how I caught him.

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In court, the man pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to 12

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months in prison, suspended for two years.

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He was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation.

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He must also pay £890 in costs and compensation.

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Eamonn now keeps his savings in the bank,

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but he does feel he got the right result in the end.

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It's been a horrible thing to go through and you wouldn't wish it on anybody.

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But I believe I'm a stronger person as a result of the actions I

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have taken and I'm very proud that I sorted it out.

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It's terrible to see Eamonn taken advantage of like that

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and by someone he knew,

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but thieves don't care if they know you or not.

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All they're interested in is your cash and your valuables.

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So, what can you do if you suspect someone you know is stealing from you?

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To support any suspicions that you may have,

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think about gathering information

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and gathering evidence against that person.

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Record times and dates.

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Record what you've got and what goes missing.

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Marking notes helps us to potentially recover that property

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and identify where it has come from.

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So if you keep records of the serial numbers,

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or mark the notes with a UV pen,

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there is a greater chance we'll actually be able to link that back to your crime.

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CCTV evidence is really, really valuable.

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The thing you need to consider is where you're going to place it,

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what it's actually going to record,

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and actually making sure that you have good quality CCTV that is

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evidentially useful to the police.

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Cameras can be hid behind photo frames.

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You can get very, very small cameras

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which could be fitted on the top of a bookcase.

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If you are confident that you've got the evidence against them,

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contact the police, let THEM do the confronting.

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Let them do the investigation and bring them to justice.

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We are back in Altrincham,

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where a corner shop is being robbed by three violent men

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brandishing knives and a machete.

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Shop assistants Ian and Dilip are in fear for their lives,

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but Dilip has bravely pressed a panic button.

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I am very, very scared. Very scared.

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I hoped he was OK.

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Obviously, he's got a family that want him home safe.

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The raid on Dilip and Ian's shop is just the latest in a serious violent

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robberies that have been taking place in Greater Manchester.

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Over the previous months,

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grocery stores have been attacked.

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Bookmakers have been raided...

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..and other businesses ransacked by ruthless armed men.

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A large number of shop workers have had to live through dangerous and

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traumatic experiences.

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Detective Sergeant Richard Castley of Greater Manchester Police's Serious Organised Crime Group

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has been leading the investigation.

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When we look at offences, we will look at patterns.

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You could clearly see that these offences were connected.

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Because of the location, which is in the Trafford area,

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and because of the way they are committing the offences,

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which is going in with large kitchen knives,

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they're threatening people working in shops with these weapons.

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They're obviously terrified of what's going to happen to them.

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The clothing they was wearing was the same, generally,

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so we could clearly see that these offences were all linked.

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In the weeks leading up to the raid on Dilip and Ian's corner shop,

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Richard's team has been working hard to identify the men who always cover

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their faces with balaclavas.

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We'll look at their height, the build of these people,

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we will look at the intelligence surrounding people to see what they

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are involved in and what they are doing and via that,

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we identify a group of suspects.

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The intelligence leads Richard to two main suspects -

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45-year-old Paul Sheridan and 38-year-old Andre Chevelleau.

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But he doesn't have enough evidence to arrest them.

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We know who is potentially committing them, but we just don't have enough

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evidence to show a court, so at that point,

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we then decide the only option we have is to run a proactive operation on them,

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which is to run surveillance on these people.

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And that is why earlier, on the day of the attack on Dilip and Ian's

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shop, undercover officers have

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already started a surveillance operation,

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watching Sheridan at his house.

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When it gets to evening time,

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it looks like Sheridan and his gang might be about to strike again.

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Our main subject goes into an estate where he lives and he gets into a

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vehicle which is an unregistered vehicle - not registered to him,

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not insured, and starts to drive off.

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The surveillance officers follow Sheridan.

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He drives over to pick up Chevelleau, their other main suspect.

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Then they pick up a third man, 35-year-old Luke Enright.

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The officers keep Richard informed so he can relay instructions to the

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other unit under his command for this operation.

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We've always got to anticipate that they are going to go and commit a robbery.

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So I have to plan - when I've got a surveillance unit,

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I'll have to have an arrest team as well and on this occasion,

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it was the Tactical Vehicle Intercept Unit.

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So they are always with us throughout.

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The car they are watching drives over to the corner shop where Ian and Dilip work.

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At that stage, I'm nervous, because

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I'm thinking to myself, what are they going to do?

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They could be going, just meeting some friends and socialising.

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They could be doing a robbery. I don't know what they're going to do.

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Richard decides to wait before striking.

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In an operation like this, the arrest team will make a move on his order,

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and the timing has to be just right.

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There's a fine line between arresting too early and not having enough evidence.

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Basically, you arrest them,

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no evidence and then they're released to carry on their criminality -

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and invariably knowing that we are looking at them -

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or arresting too late.

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I could arrest too late and it could be the fact that they've seriously hurt someone.

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The gang storms into the shop.

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One robber leaps over the counter towards Ian, and moments later,

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another can be seen chasing Dilip with a machete.

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Then he pushes Dilip, whose head hits some light switches,

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cutting it badly and plunging the shop into darkness.

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While Ian and Dilip are facing the most dangerous and frightening

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experience of their lives,

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they are not to know that there's a police team racing to rescue them from their ordeal.

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Mercifully, they only have to endure this horror for less than a minute.

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I know they are going to be there within a matter of seconds.

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However, it does feel like an eternity.

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When the police arrive, the robbers see them,

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panic and make a run for it.

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Some of the officers have tasers to try and stop the men

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and a police dog helps chase them down.

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You are a little bit nervous because your friends have come out,

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they've ran off, the police officers going at them.

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Then getting the occasional one detained.

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But I'm wanting all three detained,

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so for that short period, I'm hoping no-one's got away.

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Then Richard receives the news he's been waiting for.

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Three people have been arrested. All three of the suspects.

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Inside the shop, Ian and Dilip are in a state of shock.

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A bit bewildered really, wondering what was going on.

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And then I look at the door and there was a police officer stood there,

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which was a huge relief.

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I am really happy the police arrest the people.

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Ian remained calm during the ordeal, but now, it's a different story.

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Afterwards, it just hit me - "Oh, my God, that's just happened!

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"You could have been hurt and Dilip could have been hurt worse than what he was."

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I guess it's just the nerves hitting you after the adrenaline was

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maybe keeping them at bay.

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But this case is not yet closed.

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With the robbers in custody,

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Richard's team must now focus on building a watertight case

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against them for all of their crimes, not just one. No easy task.

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These suspects are quite arrogant.

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Quite dismissive of what is going on.

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They're saying to us, "We're going to get short prison sentences -

0:25:100:25:14

"we'll be out quite soon," etc.

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But Richard knows there are a number of shocked and frightened victims

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relying on him to put this gang away for a long time.

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It's important for us to get them prosecuted for the level of criminality they have committed.

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If they have committed seven offences,

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they get convicted of seven offences.

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And that's important that they get a longer sentence for what they have

0:25:320:25:36

done and also to give closure to the victims of the other attacks.

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The investigation enters a new phase.

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Analysis of the CCTV from Ian and Dilip's shop and all the others,

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using the latest police technology,

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can provide evidence that will make sure these robbers face justice.

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Every item of evidence seized from the suspects and their houses is

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painstakingly matched to the CCTV footage of all the robberies.

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And soon, Richard's team make significant progress.

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A coat that's identical to one worn at a raid on a bookies is found

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at one of the robbers' houses.

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And a pair of gloves.

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And a balaclava.

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And other clothing found is also matched to images from the raids.

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It all linked in very well and very nicely.

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It can't be anyone else, because there's not another team of armed robbers doing exactly the same as

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them, wearing exactly the same clothing,

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going round the same area of Greater Manchester, committing the robberies.

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It's these people we've arrested.

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DNA evidence is also compiled and incriminating information

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gleaned from the robbers' phones.

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When my team have put it all together,

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we've got seven offences that these people are going to get convicted of.

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I'm really happy then.

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Now Richard's team has done its work,

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the suspects have less to be arrogant about.

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They're going to jail for a long time.

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In the Crown Court, Paul Sheridan was convicted of seven counts relating

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to actual or attempted robberies and was sentenced to 11 years in prison,

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plus a further three years on licence.

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Andre Chevelleau was convicted of six counts relating to actual or attempted robberies

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and was sentenced to ten years in prison.

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And Luke Enright was sentenced to seven years in prison plus a further

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three years on licence for the raid on Dilip and Ian's shop.

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Richard and his team were delighted with the sentences.

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I like to put these people in prison because they are just bullies at the

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end of the day. They're going out,

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they're harassing people who are working for a living,

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they're causing trauma to people.

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They should be put in prison for a long time.

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The public are protected and I'm happy they've got their comeuppance.

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Dilip needed seven stitches to patch up his head wound,

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but he and Ian are now back at work and recovering from the ordeal.

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Even though it was bad,

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it's still something that makes you look back and say, you know,

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"We went through that together."

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

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who have been Caught Red Handed.

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A blind man uses an electronic eye to see what his own eyes cannot, and a clumsy crook trying to cut it as a burglar ends up cutting his hand badly.