Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. Thieves feed gas into cash machines and explode them.
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Thieves will steal our cash, our cars, our valuables.
Just about anything they can get their hands on.
But now, the police are using cutting-edge technology to catch
-the bad guys.
-We want to make sure we've got a concrete case.
Enough evidence to convict at court.
Local councils, shops and businesses are fighting crime
with their own tricks and traps...
It's just unbelievable that she thinks she could get away with this.
..and the public are using secret cameras
to make sure that crooks get their comeuppance.
Fair means or foul, I was going to get rid of him.
I thought, "We've got her."
And I was so happy. Thank God!
So anyone who is up to no good had better think twice.
They might just get caught red-handed.
Today, there's a new kind of criminal in town -
thieves who feed gas into cashpoint machines,
and then ignite them.
They're after quick cash and don't care about the consequences.
They're going to kill someone. They really are going to kill someone at
some stage. All they're concentrating on is getting large
sums of money for themselves.
Also today - Robert and Jane are getting ready for a holiday,
safe in the knowledge that using clever technology,
they'll be able to keep an eye on their home while they're away.
And when they do check it from abroad,
they get a shock.
An intruder is about to break in.
We felt helpless.
We were on the edge of our seats, watching a horror movie unfold.
But this horror movie has a surprise ending - for the burglar.
When he tries to escape, he gets nabbed by the Hampshire Home Guard.
And we've heard of cat burglars,
but these thieves look more like mice, scurrying around,
stealing expensive wheels of cheese from a warehouse, but little
do they realise, these mice are in a trap.
Criminals are always looking for new and devious ways to steal cash.
Some thieves don't care if they put
innocent lives in danger in the process.
Timperley is a suburban village in Greater Manchester.
It's where Emily grew up and where she decided to return with her
young son Leo when they needed a new home.
When she saw a one-bedroom flat was available to rent above
the local Post Office, Emily jumped at the chance.
I knew all my friends and family were round there.
I went to go and view it with my mum and it was lovely.
Leo had the bedroom and I had, like,
sort of the lounge, but it was big enough.
Emily took a job at the local supermarket to make ends meet and
she and Leo soon settled in.
So much easier for me to go to work
cos we didn't have to walk 45 minutes to school.
It was a five-minute walk.
I had the time to spend more time with Leo.
It was lovely.
But Emily comes to regret her choice of home when the Post Office
downstairs is subject to a ruthless
attack by a dangerous gang of criminals.
It's night-time in summer.
Emily is asleep in her bed in the lounge and Leo's in his bedroom.
Just before midnight, he woke up and came into my bedroom,
which is not like him at all.
I just thought maybe he just wanted a bit of cuddle time with Mummy.
It's as if Leo has had a premonition, because around 2am,
they are woken up by a violent explosion.
I just heard this massive bang.
The house shook, all the alarms went off,
the Post Office alarm, my alarm.
Emily rushes to the window to see what's happened.
There was a car trying to ram-raid the front of the Post Office.
The men were trying to pull the shutters up.
I didn't know once they did that,
whether they were going to come up into my bedroom, you know,
bang my door down.
Leo was really, like, upset.
She dials 999.
As I was on the phone to the police, I then see them escape.
They drove through a red light,
straight over a bridge and I was just dead relieved.
But her relief soon turns to terror.
The building is on fire.
I could smell some smoke.
It was pitch-black, couldn't see anything.
All the electrics had gone
and it just started to get thicker,
the smoke coming up from the Post Office.
Using the light on her phone,
Emily goes to check if they can get down the stairs and finds her whole
flat is a scene of devastation.
There was wires hanging from the ceiling.
The floorboard in the kitchen was all caved in and I just thought I
can't get out. At that point, me and Leo were trapped in the room.
The police call taker tells Emily to place bedding at the bottom of the
living room door to keep out the smoke until help can reach them.
I had to stay calm for Leo.
He was crying his eyes out.
Firefighters arrive within minutes and escort Emily and Leo out of
the building. As she leaves,
Emily looks into Leo's bedroom and makes a shocking discovery.
The wardrobe had landed onto Leo's bed.
Horrible to think he would have been crushed.
It turns out the gang have used gas to cause an explosion in
the Post Office's cash machine
but still failed to get to the money inside.
So then, they tried to get into the back of the cash machine by
ram-raiding the post office's main window,
but couldn't get past the metal shutters.
Their reckless actions have caused heavy damage to the building.
Emily and Leo were lucky not to lose their lives,
but they have lost many of their possessions.
Most of the stuff was irreplaceable and memories.
After the explosion, I felt anxious, I didn't sleep.
Leo has a few nightmares and bad dreams.
The attempted crime at the Post Office is the latest in a series of
similar raids in the region.
Greater Manchester Police's serious and organised crime group
are brought in. Detective Sergeant Richard Casselly
is the senior investigating officer.
We've noticed an incredible increase in these offences,
I think it was about 16 offences over a very short period of time,
What they'd basically do would be go to an ATM machine,
usually at night-time, when the premises are closed,
put gas into those machines, ignite the gas,
causing a major explosion and steal the cash from within.
We've not seen this MO before.
It was a new thing that had just started.
It's not always the same offenders who are doing it, but I'd have a
guess it's the same group.
Richard's team know they have to stop these thieves before they cause
It may be in the hours of darkness,
but they don't know if someone's in the business premises.
They don't know if someone's going to be walking past.
They're going to kill someone, because they have no regard for anyone at all.
All they're concentrating on
is getting large sums of money for themselves.
The day after the attempted raid at the Post Office, Richard gets a lead.
A member of the public who lives just over a mile away calls
the police to say she heard a
disturbance in her street in the early hours of the morning.
What she basically heard was a vehicle pull up to where she lives, outside,
they parked up and then she heard metal objects being moved out of
the vehicle, cos she could hear them being scraped along the floor.
When police go to the location near the caller's house,
they find a stolen car.
Inside that stolen vehicle are gas canisters, which have obviously been
used in our offence a little bit earlier.
On one of the gas canisters,
police find partial DNA matches to
two men who have a history of previous offences.
There's a lot more work to do when we get this partial DNA profile,
because it's not enough to arrest someone,
charge them and put them in prison.
What it basically does do is start to build a picture for us.
The gang seems to go to ground for three months.
But then, there's another raid and it's the most dangerous yet.
At this petrol station in Partington, Greater Manchester.
It's just gone 3am on a Friday.
The forecourt camera records two figures at the garage's cashpoint.
They start feeding gas into the machine.
And two minutes later, they ignite it.
flaming debris flies across the forecourt.
A rubbish bin right next to the petrol pumps catches fire.
I knew there was 11,000 or 12,000 litres of fuel on the site.
I thought, "Oh, my God."
But the thieves had made a big mistake.
This surveillance video shows a cheese cellar,
where large wheels of precious Parmesan have been maturing for
the past year. They're worth over £1,000 each.
And the burglar, who's about to make off with these gourmet goods,
knows this only too well.
You're on camera - say cheese!
But he's not the only mouse to take the bait.
Not one, not two,
there's a whole nest of them, scurrying around,
nibbling at the stack until they've all had a slice of the action.
They're part of a gang said to have stolen 168 Parmesan wheels and
16,000 bottles of wine over the past two years.
But this time, the mice have failed to see the mousetrap
because they've been caught on CCTV.
And it doesn't take long for police to sniff out and arrest a total of
ten Parmesan thieves, and put an end to the little cheese and wine party.
When we go on holiday, we always think, "Have I cancelled the papers?
"Did I remember to turn off the gas?" To which we should add,
"Have I done all I can to make my home secure?"
Because burglars do love an empty house.
A burglar returns to the scene of a previous crime.
The homeowners are on holiday, so he thinks he can take his time,
stealing their precious possessions.
But the locals think differently.
The neighbourhood watch team becomes a neighbourhood Swat team.
The village of Curdridge nestles in the Hampshire countryside.
The beauty of the area drew Robert and Jane
here from London 25 years ago.
We realised we were going to have
a baby and wanted to get out of London.
We loved the countryside,
so we moved down to a very quiet peaceful village in Hampshire.
The couple have made many friends in the village over the years.
It's a fabulous neighbourhood.
We know everybody here in the lane.
The neighbours here all club together and we look after
everybody's property, whether it's watering the plants or looking after
their chickens when they go on holiday.
The neighbours also decided to club together for security reasons.
We run a very good neighbourhood watch system here in the village.
You know, twice a year we have get-togethers, so we all know
each other, know each other's phone numbers.
But have never had any sign of any trouble at all.
Nothing ever happens.
It's almost just been an excuse to meet up every six months
and have a glass of wine and that's it.
But one day, the neighbourhood watch team proves that it can do more than
knock back a few glasses of wine
when they knock down a burglar at Robert and Jane's house.
It's nearly midnight on a Friday and Robert arrives home after a day of
meetings in London.
He's on his own because Jane is abroad.
I went upstairs to go to bed.
After about half an hour, I kept hearing a sort of a squeaking noise.
Suspecting it's a mouse,
Robert goes to investigate
and realises the noise is coming from a bedroom.
I opened the bedroom door and there is a guy sitting on the bed.
I kind of just froze for a few seconds.
The man has filled a bag with Robert and Jane's belongings.
Roberts tells him to drop it and leave.
I didn't want to have a confrontation.
It was just get him out of the house and then I'd worry about everything
after that. The burglar leaves the bag in the bedroom and starts going
down the stairs. He then suddenly stopped and turned and faced me and
said, "I want my bag."
I said, "You can't have your bag. It's my bag. It's my things."
The thief pushes past Robert.
We had a sort of a little scuffle as he came past me and he ran down
the corridor and then slammed the door in my face.
The man goes back into the bedroom, smashes the window,
throws the bag out and then makes his escape.
As well as precious jewellery,
it turns out the burglar has stolen bikes and other items from an
outbuilding. Over the next few days,
Robert arranges for replacement windows and more security measures.
I was left a bit shaken and then it occurred to me,
I'd been thinking about CCTV and I thought,
"Well, actually now is the opportune time to go and do it."
I need to make it happen.
He installs two cameras that can
send him pictures and alerts over the internet.
I'm quite into the technology
and liked the concept that it would alert me
via smartphone if it detected an intruder.
Robert flies out to meet Jane on holiday.
When he arrives, he tells her about how he took on the burglar.
I was very proud of what Robert did, but obviously it was very, very scary,
because the guy could have had a knife or a gun or anything.
Jane and Robert are determined to enjoy their break in Andorra, but a
few days into their holiday,
an alert from their home security system pops up on Robert's phone.
An intruder has been detected.
Oh, goodness! Movement in the driveway.
I thought, "Well, maybe it's the postman or the milkman or something
"like that," and then I looked, and realised, "Oh, gosh, it's the same guy."
I could see him. It's the same guy.
-We've got to do something.
-Robert and I had both started sort of
panicking, shouting, "What shall we do?
"What's going on? This is impossible."
And I'm shouting at my wife, saying, "You got to call the police.
"You've got to get somebody there."
Of course, we didn't know how to call the police from Andorra.
You can't dial 999 from a foreign country.
Luckily, Jane knows the phone numbers
of their neighbourhood watch team.
We called our next door neighbour and the next one and the next one.
Time after time, people are not answering their phones.
It was the third neighbour, actually, managed to answer.
Jane asked their neighbour to call 999.
But when she does, because she's not the property owner,
the call handler suspects it may be a hoax and wants to check before
sending the police.
Meanwhile, the intruder has worked out that the house is empty.
He goes to shut the gate, so it doesn't draw any attention.
I'm just watching this live, going mad.
We felt helpless, but we could see it happening.
Jane phones their daughter in Devon, who contacts Hampshire Police.
She gives them my number and they, the police then ring me and say,
"Are you being burgled?"
And I said, "Yes!"
"And how do you know?" I said, "Cos I can see it on video.
-"It's on my camera."
-Officers are dispatched to the house.
The burglar is oblivious to
the intense activity he's causing in two countries.
He climbs onto a roof in order to break in.
We were devastated because he's
found something in his hand to go and smash a window.
And there's a smash to the window, and I thought, "Oh, no, not another one."
We were on the edge of our seats watching a horror movie unfold.
Then they see someone else arrive.
It's the neighbour who Jane talked to on the phone.
We see a retired lady turn up on her own and, you think,
"Oh, my goodness, what have we now done?"
Feeling guilty, because you realise, actually,
are we asking our neighbours to put themselves into a position that
it isn't really fair to engage in on our behalves?
Then more locals arrive.
The neighbour has organised a posse!
Four neighbours all turned up, which was just phenomenal.
And they could see him inside the house.
-How did you get in here?
And they're shouting at him, "You shouldn't be there!"
And he's saying he couldn't get out. And of course, they can't get in.
So it's a bit of a stalemate.
Realising he is surrounded,
the burglar goes upstairs and back out through the window he'd smashed.
We saw this person jump and land on the gravel.
He actually landed badly and fell over.
And then, we saw one, two, three neighbours pile in on top.
And these are guys who are kind of in their late 60s,
70s and they just sat on top of him.
The 22-year-old burglar tries to struggle free from his captors.
The woman runs for reinforcements.
We hear a lot of horrible shouting.
I knew at some point that he could easily break away.
He had bitten our neighbour's arm through a thick anorak and, you know,
had raised the most horrific bruising.
But the brave neighbours somehow managed to keep the strong young man
pinned down. Six minutes later, reinforcements arrive,
followed by a police dog handler.
We realised, thank goodness, that's it.
The police have come. It will all be fine.
But though they're pleased the burglar has been caught,
the impact of the two break-ins hits the couple hard.
They travel home immediately.
We just felt invaded, you know.
Someone had come into our house, they'd been going through my drawers.
It doesn't feel like your place any more.
When the intruder appeared in court a month later,
Jane read out a victim statement.
I wanted my chance to explain just,
you know, how horrible it was.
I really felt everybody was concerned
and was listening to me as the victim,
so I was very grateful for that and I was very happy that justice did
take its course.
The man pleaded guilty to burglary and other offences,
including assault and criminal damage.
He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Robert and Jane know that without their courageous neighbours,
they could have had a very unpleasant homecoming.
We were extremely grateful to the neighbours and, in fact, on the Sunday,
we invited them all round for some lunch.
We wanted to thank everybody and we
all talked about it and shared the experience.
They have to be the heroes of the day.
We're back in Greater Manchester,
where the police are on the trail of dangerous criminals who use gas to
blow up cash machines to get at the money inside,
with little concern about the risk to other people's lives.
CCTV has just captured two men
causing this explosion at a petrol station.
They scoop up armfuls of cash and throw away any notes that are burnt.
It's 5:30am and the garage owner Shohel is woken at home by a
panicked assistant who's just gone to open up the garage.
His words were,
"Shohel, there's police everywhere and the site is in bits."
And I just thought, "Oh, my God, what's happened here?"
Shohel jumps straight into the car and rushes to the garage.
I could just see a sea of police everywhere.
I remember seeing money on the floor
and the cash machine in two halves.
Some of the garage's pumps are badly damaged.
Each pump cost anywhere between £20,000 and £50,000.
I just said, "Oh, my God, how am I going to serve customers now?"
Shohel and police officers look back through the garage's camera
recordings to see exactly what's happened.
When Shohel sees the explosion,
he knows the situation could have become catastrophic.
When I saw the fireball go across from the cash machine to the pump,
I knew there was 11,000 or 12,000 litres of fuel on the site.
It could have gone directly underneath,
into the tanks and taken the whole site out.
If that had gone up in flames, it's not just the petrol station.
Within that very close proximity, you're talking about 200-odd houses.
It could have literally taken out the whole of that.
The robbers get away with £41,000.
And the repair bill for the garage is nearly £84,000.
Shohel won't be able to trade properly until the pumps are fixed,
leaving him severely out of pocket.
It was supporting my life, my family, I've got suppliers to pay,
I've got bills to pay, I've got wages to pay.
The emotion of just frustration and anger, as well as upset.
The pressure is on for senior investigating officer
Richard Casselly and his team to track down the men responsible.
When you look at the service station offence, it just shows how mad,
how chaotic and how much of a
disregard for people these people have.
They're going to kill someone. They really are going to kill someone at some stage,
because they have no regard for anyone at all.
All they're concentrating on is
getting large sums of money for themselves.
But the gang has made a careless mistake.
The thieves left behind the gas canisters
used to ignite the cash machine.
They are sent off for forensic analysis.
And there's another breakthrough for Richard and his team -
a member of the public has just called with valuable information.
They've seen offenders near the ATM making off on motorbikes straight
after the offence, with what appears to be rucksacks on their back.
Richard's team collect CCTV from street cameras in the area to see if
-they can spot anything.
-In the early hours of the morning,
-there's not going to be many people on the road.
-And they strike lucky.
A nearby camera shows the thieves on their motorcycles fleeing the scene
-of the crime.
-And we could see that one of the bikes in an image was
like a red type of bike, with quite distinct flashing on the side.
At the same time, the forensic report on the gas canisters
the crooks left at the garage comes back.
Partial DNA has been found matching that of a man known to the police.
The same DNA was also found on gas canisters used at the earlier raid
on the Post Office.
Partial DNA hits are now at the offence at the Post Office,
and then also at the offence at the service station,
so even though it's circumstantial evidence, it's becoming stronger.
The police now have enough evidence to arrest that man and another
suspect, whose partial DNA was also found on the canister.
At the first suspect's house, they find £5,700 in cash.
This chap, he doesn't work.
He's on benefits and he's got a lot
of money there in notes, which he's got no reason to have.
This search of the second suspect's house proves even more fruitful.
We recover a rucksack.
Inside the rucksack is gas canisters with piping.
They find more gas canisters stashed in the rear yard and a
rather familiar-looking motorcycle.
Now, this again is a significant find to us.
We have CCTV footage of two bikes making away from the scene.
One of them's a red bike with flashing down the sides,
which is identical in appearance to this.
Even more vital evidence is uncovered by studying where
the suspects' mobile phones have been used over the past few months.
We are able to put them at the scenes of offences and also at the
scenes of vehicle abandonments, which they were unable to explain.
This is really strong evidence that again links them to the offences
that we are investigating.
With all the evidence stacked up against them,
both men admitted to the crimes.
In court, one pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and causing an
explosion likely to endanger life and was sentenced to
eight and a half years in prison.
The other man also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal,
to causing an explosion and to an additional robbery.
He was jailed for 11 and a half years.
But that wasn't the end of the matter.
I was at court on the day they got these sentences and immediately
after sentencing, they both cheered, laughed,
and one of them even blew a raspberry
at the gallery as he was taken down.
It was clear they thought they'd got away with it to a degree and got
really lenient sentences.
As a result, we went back,
had a conversation with the Crown Prosecution Service and requested
these sentences were appealed due to being unduly lenient.
And the appeals court agreed -
their prison sentences
were increased to 13 years and six months, and 18 years.
Not such a laughing matter now.
Detective Richard is pleased with the new jail terms and the
overall impact this case has had on other criminals
in Greater Manchester.
Since the result, there has been a reduction in that type of crime.
It puts people off with the big sentences.
I hope it brings a little bit of closure as well for the victims in this.
For Shohel, who had to build his petrol station back up,
the robbers being arrested and convicted was wonderful news.
It was a sense of relief.
I'm glad it's over.
They've been caught, they can't do
it again and nobody else can be affected.
Emily and Leo's flat was so badly damaged by the thieves causing an
explosion in the Post Office below, they had to move out.
But now, they are happily settled in a new home.
It's onwards and upwards now.
A new chapter.
Leo's started a new school, has loads of friends.
It's nice to see Leo happy and smiley.
That's it for today. And that's it for a few more criminals who have
been caught red-handed.
Thieves feed gas into cash machines and explode them, a couple on holiday are horrified when their phone shows a burglar on the prowl back home, and a gang of men stealing cheese from a factory soon find they have been caught in a trap.