Episode 8 Caught Red Handed


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Episode 8

Dom Littlewood shows how technology is being used to catch crooks. A jeweller must act fast when armed men attack his shop, and a city unites to take on thieves.


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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, jeweller Shrikant has to act fast...

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..when armed men attack his shop.

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My staff started screaming

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so, obviously, I was thinking of the safety of everybody in the shop.

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But the robbers get a surprise

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when Shrikant triggers his state-of-the-art security system.

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Also today, in Liverpool, thieves have been plaguing small businesses.

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They turned over Gareth's bar twice in a month.

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It's horrible. Is this ever going to stop?

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Is anyone ever going to be caught?

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So Gareth comes up with a plan to unite the city

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and call time on these crooks.

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And this couple are using a baby buggy to steal a beer barrel.

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But they haven't counted on the sharp eyes

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of the security camera operator, who wasn't born yesterday.

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Of all the shops in a typical high street,

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jewellery shops are prime targets for robbers.

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They can see all the valuables on display

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and they look very accessible.

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But jewellers are finding some ingenious ways

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to defend their businesses.

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The Golden Mile in Leicester,

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a road renowned for its Indian restaurants,

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sari shops and jewellers.

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Shrikant, with his brothers Jay and Raj, runs this jewellery shop,

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which was established by their father in 1976.

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He'd run a similar business in Uganda,

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before being forced out of the country,

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along with many other Asians in the mid-'70s.

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When we had to leave, in the night

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there was a lot of gunshots, so it was quite scary.

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And that's really stuck in my head.

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Shrikant was just ten when he arrived in the UK.

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Along with his brothers, he learnt about jewellery as he grew up.

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The jewellery trade, it's in our blood

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and, whilst my father was building up the business,

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he used to teach me how to make some jewellery

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and that's how I got into it.

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Despite competition for customers, the jewellery shop owners

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in the Golden Mile have always stuck together.

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It is a lovely community, very tight-knit.

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We do get together and have meetings regularly for security purposes.

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Local businesses have boosted their security systems

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with state-of-the-art alarms and smoke generators

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to deter thieves because shops,

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including Shrikant's, have been attacked by armed gangs in the past.

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Very, very terrifying it was, but, at the back of your mind,

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you're always thinking to yourself

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that yes, this has happened and it could happen again.

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And it does happen to Shrikant again

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when, one day, armed men raid his shop

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and he has just seconds to respond to save his business.

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It's mid-afternoon on a Saturday.

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Shrikant, his brother Jay and other members of staff are in the shop.

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Shrikant's dealing with two customers.

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I was at the back and, obviously,

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when you're concentrating on a customer,

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you're not really looking round to see what's going on.

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A man walks up to the entrance.

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For security, the door is kept locked,

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so a member of staff presses a button under the counter

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to let him in.

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But he loiters by the door, preventing it from shutting.

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I heard the staff saying, "Please close the door."

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And I thought, "Right, what's going on?

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"Is somebody else coming in with a pushchair?"

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But then, when I looked, I only saw one person there

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so I said to him, "Please, if you don't mind, close the door."

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Shrikant can't see outside, where a car has pulled up

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and three masked men are leaping out.

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Two of them are brandishing axes, the other has a metal bar.

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They storm into the shop.

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Very, very terrifying.

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All sorts of thoughts go through your mind cos I didn't know

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whether they were just here to try and grab some jewellery

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or whether they were here to try and attack us and do something else,

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and if they're swinging an axe, they could swing it at you as well.

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The armed men start smashing the toughened glass counters.

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My staff started screaming

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so, obviously, I was thinking of the safety of everybody in the shop.

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But even though it's a terrifying situation,

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Shrikant manages to keep a cool head.

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I had to act very fast,

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so I turned round and I went to the back of the shop,

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activated the alarms, activated the smoke,

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and the SmokeCloak fills the shop up within seconds.

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I think they realise that they don't have much time left now.

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The robbers have only been in the shop for ten seconds,

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when they panic and start leaving,

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driven out by the alarm and billowing smoke.

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Shrikant follows them.

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I thought, "Right, I'll run after them so that I've got

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"something to give to the police as to which direction they went."

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The robbers dive into the black car.

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All they've managed to take is two small trays of gold jewellery.

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They went straight down the road, so I made a note of the registration.

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Shrikant goes back inside and calmly phones the police.

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This is part of the recording of his 999 call.

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Shrikant tries to console his staff and customers.

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You are so upset at that point.

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I told the family members and staff, "Let's go to the back of the shop.

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"Sit yourselves down, relax."

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The police reach his shop within minutes.

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Detective Constable Nick Lant is the officer in charge of the case.

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Officers arrived at the jewellers to find a scene of devastation.

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There was still smoke spilling out of the open door

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and there was smashed glass everywhere.

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There was an axe lying on the pavement,

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directly outside the front door,

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and an axe lying within the shop.

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You can imagine the state that some of the staff were in.

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The robbery might have only lasted ten seconds,

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but it certainly didn't seem like that to Shrikant and his colleagues.

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The seconds really felt like about five minutes

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and you're so frightened and those five minutes are really, really bad.

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Considering the extreme and organised nature of their raid,

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the robbers must be disappointed with the value of their haul.

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We would estimate that the street value is probably only £5,000.

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If they had to share that, it doesn't add up to much.

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Whilst they do this, they leave a scar at the back of your mind

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which will obviously be there for the rest of your life.

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Because the robbers achieved so little, they may well try again.

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They need to be caught quickly.

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Coming up, police officers search the shop and find the robbers

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have left behind a clue that will prove to be their downfall.

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For most people, 5.30am is a little early to roll out the barrel.

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But not this couple!

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They're making off across a market square

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with a keg of beer they've stolen from a pub.

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And now, bizarrely,

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they're loading the barrel into a baby buggy.

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I've heard of wetting the baby's head but this is ridiculous!

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Like proud parents, they leisurely saunter through the city streets

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with their 52-pint-size new arrival.

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But they haven't counted on

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the ever watchful local security camera operator,

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who's spotted the theft

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and is reporting their movements to the police.

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One policeman chases after them on foot,

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while a patrol car follows up behind.

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The couple are soon apprehended

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and forced to sheepishly wield their booze-filled buggy back to the pub.

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They are fined £100 for their trouble.

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Thanks to the sharp-eyed camera operator,

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the police had them over a barrel.

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A bar and a cafe share the same building

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and they share the same problem.

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They are being attacked by thieves again...

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GLASS SMASHES ..and again...

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GLASS SMASHES ..and again.

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In Liverpool's historic city centre,

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husband and wife team, Gareth and Vicky,

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have been running their own bar for a year.

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They specialise in craft beer,

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which has been growing in popularity across the UK.

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We live, eat, breathe craft beer, you know.

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Small batch, small brewery, handcrafted beer.

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The couple were inspired to start their own business

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after experiencing the craft beer scene in America, while on holiday.

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It was just a very drunken conversation.

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What if we opened our own bar?

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Gareth and Vicky gave up their jobs and poured in their savings

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to build a bar in their hometown of Liverpool.

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It was a massive risk to open a bar.

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Neither of us have opened a bar in our lives.

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Day before opening, we had the entire family here,

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painting and putting the furniture in

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and it was a fantastic night, it really was.

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We've not looked back since, thankfully.

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Their bar is on one of Liverpool's oldest streets

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and is situated in a conservation area.

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It's just a gorgeous building to be in, it really is.

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But being in a listed building can have its drawbacks.

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The couple are allowed to have a metal shutter on their door

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but they can't have shutters on their windows

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to protect their bar when it's closed.

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And that's about to cost them dear.

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It's the early hours of a Sunday morning.

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The bar has closed for the night.

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Gareth and Vicky are currently abroad on holiday.

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Their staff have long gone home...

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GLASS SMASHES

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..when a man breaks in,

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by smashing a window to the side of the front door.

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He scurries over to the till, but it's totally empty.

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The man searches round for anything else he can lay his hands on.

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He finds the staff's tip jars and tips each jar into his pockets.

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Then he hurries back out the way he came in.

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Staff discover the break-in later that day

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and Gareth and Vicky get a call that ruins their happy holiday.

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Totally shell-shocked, really.

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My wife, Vicky, was extremely upset, as was I.

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It was heartbreaking, it really was.

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It's little consolation that the thief had got away

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with only a small amount of tips.

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The real problem is the extensive damage he'd caused.

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Replacement cost of the window

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and the boarding up costs were in excess of £1,000

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and for a very small business like ourselves,

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that was difficult to find.

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Gareth fears for the bar's future.

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The fact he can't put shutters on the window

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puts him in an impossible situation.

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It's a Grade II listed building and Planning would never allow that,

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so there was no way for us

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to actually secure them windows from the outside.

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The couple have to carry on trading with the window boarded up.

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A month later, the glass is back in place.

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But not for long.

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Six days after the window was in, it happened again.

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Around 5.30am on a Friday,

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the camera above the bar's front door catches two men hanging around,

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looking shifty,.

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Minutes later, another camera shows one of them

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hiding a brick behind his coat.

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Making sure nobody is watching,

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he then throws it at the bar's window, smashing it through.

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BRICK BANGS ON WINDOW

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GLASS SMASHES

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But the pair don't enter there and then.

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They walk away, in case any alarm has been triggered.

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A short while later, they're back.

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When they see there's been no response to their vandalism,

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one of the men crawls in through the broken window.

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At this point, motion sensors inside the bar do set the alarm off...

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ALARM RINGS ..but the man runs in anyway.

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Unfortunately, a fault means the alarm causes the CCTV system

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to cut out and it doesn't record what happens next.

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The first Gareth knows of it is when the police ring him at 9.30am.

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As soon as it was a "No caller ID" on my phone,

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I knew it was the police, I knew in my gut that we'd been broken into.

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Gareth is able to view the bar's CCTV on his mobile phone

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and now the alarm has stopped, the cameras have started working again.

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I can see the same window that they got into previously.

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Six days, £1,000 window, and there's another one gone straight away.

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It's horrible!

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The two thieves have gone away empty-handed

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but, again, there's been considerable damage.

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They decided to smash the till up, we don't know why.

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Again, that was over £1,000. We just can't sustain things like this.

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We're a little independent business. Every penny counts.

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The police take away the CCTV footage to investigate,

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but Gareth's bar is not the only business that's suffered.

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On the other corner of the same building

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is another independent enterprise, the Dale Street Eatery,

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which also has unshuttered windows.

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The owners of the Dale Street Eatery gave us a call

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to say that they'd been broken into.

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The cafe security camera shows a man breaking the window.

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He then starts rummaging around for stuff to steal.

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It's the same man who smashed the window at Gareth's bar.

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He takes some phones that are lying around and then leaves the cafe.

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But again, not for long.

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Just five days later, he's back.

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The cafe owner has replaced the window but, once more,

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he kicks it through with his heel.

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KICKING

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GLASS SMASHES

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This time he has a different accomplice

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from when he raided Gareth's.

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The thieves only get away with a small amount of change

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that's left in the till but, yet again,

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there is significant damage to the premises.

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Another independent business, our friends,

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they're in the same predicament as us

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cos they're in the same building as us, Grade II listed,

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so they can't protect the front of their shop like we want to.

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Horrible for them, horrible for us, and this block as well, you know.

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If they've been done twice in a week,

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when's our next one going to happen?

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And that's when we really were just checking, checking,

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checking the cameras all the time, not really sleeping.

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Gareth finds out there have also been repeated raids

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on other small businesses in the same street

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and nearby roads in the city's conservation area.

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It did really feel that the independents were being victimised.

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Gareth comes up with a plan.

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He contacts the local paper and asks them to highlight

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what a struggle it is for small businesses

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to protect themselves in the conservation area.

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To get extra attention,

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he puts the images of the burglars breaking into his bar online.

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And the cafe does too. It causes an outcry.

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It was just to get their faces out there, as much as you could.

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Everyone was outraged, everyone was sharing it.

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And all the publicity seems to work.

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Gareth soon gets the news he's been hoping for.

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The police phoned me up, like, a day later. Two arrests had been made.

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Genuinely happy that they got them.

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The police did say to us it is down to such good footage

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that we gave them, you know,

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so, for us, that was a little victory in what's been a struggle.

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Later, another man is arrested

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and, in total, three men are charged with burglary.

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In court, they all pleaded guilty.

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One was jailed for 24 weeks...

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..another for 18 months,

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and the third man, who was involved in three of the offences,

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was sent down for 20 months.

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And there was more good news for Gareth.

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His bar's broken window is still boarded up,

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but all the publicity about the case means the council have relented

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and will now allow him to have protective shutters on his windows.

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We are then fully secure, front and back,

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as much as humanly...as we can be,

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and then we'll replace the window, so we'll sleep a lot easier.

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The business has still done really well and we're still loving it.

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We are now living the dream.

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It seems criminals do like to return to the scene of their crimes,

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whether it's a business or someone's home.

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One in four burglary victims are targeted for a second time.

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So, what can people do to avoid becoming victims of repeat crime?

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What we do experience sometimes is that burglars will know

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that you probably replace valuable property, so they'll give you

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a little while, then come back in a couple of weeks' time.

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If you've got valuable new items in the home,

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don't advertise the fact by leaving the packaging and the boxes outside.

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Just make sure that the packaging is either put firmly

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into the bottom of your wheelie bin

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or hidden away in your garage or shed

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until the right day that the rubbish is going to be collected.

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If you're a victim of crime, please don't just carry on regardless.

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You need to think about taking measures to protect yourself

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in the future, so if your home is broken into, change your locks.

0:19:380:19:41

I know it can be expensive, but it's money well invested

0:19:410:19:45

and, often, your home insurance will cover these things.

0:19:450:19:47

Don't be afraid to ask the police for advice

0:19:470:19:49

and they will complete a crime prevention survey on your property

0:19:490:19:53

and offer you that expert opinion on upgrading your security.

0:19:530:19:57

We're back in Leicester, where there's been an armed robbery

0:20:050:20:08

at a jeweller's shop, leaving staff and customers badly shaken.

0:20:080:20:12

The shop owner, Shrikant, triggered the alarm

0:20:120:20:15

and smoke defence system,

0:20:150:20:17

driving the robbers out within seconds of them entering the shop.

0:20:170:20:20

So the first thing to think was, "I'll run after them,

0:20:220:20:24

"just to see exactly where they're going, so that I've got

0:20:240:20:28

"something to give to the police as to which direction they went to."

0:20:280:20:32

Detective Constable Nick Lant is the officer in charge of the case.

0:20:340:20:38

The staff within the jeweller's,

0:20:380:20:40

despite the trauma of that incident, they were switched on...

0:20:400:20:43

..and they got the vehicle registration mark

0:20:450:20:47

and the direction of travel.

0:20:470:20:48

Nick knows there are five robbers in the gang.

0:20:490:20:52

The three masked men and the doorman,

0:20:520:20:54

and there was a getaway driver.

0:20:540:20:56

Officers begin scouring the most likely escape routes,

0:20:560:20:59

in case the robbers have abandoned their getaway car.

0:20:590:21:02

Back at the jeweller's,

0:21:050:21:06

investigators examine two axes the gang left behind

0:21:060:21:10

and they see that they have a unique type of pricing label.

0:21:100:21:14

We're looking at a distinctive green price label there

0:21:140:21:17

and, if you look, you can see that there's a section missing

0:21:170:21:20

from that end bowl of the "P".

0:21:200:21:22

That tells us that the machine probably has a misprint on it

0:21:220:21:26

because it's the same misprint on every label.

0:21:260:21:29

Therefore, if we find the shop where they're sold,

0:21:290:21:31

we can expect to see that same misprint, so the hunt is on.

0:21:310:21:35

Then, more good news comes in. Officers have found the getaway car.

0:21:350:21:40

They did a top quality job.

0:21:400:21:42

They were very quick to find that black vehicle.

0:21:420:21:45

There was an integral sat nav in that vehicle, and that's crucial.

0:21:450:21:50

It showed us the origin of that vehicle's last journey,

0:21:500:21:54

a West Midlands postcode.

0:21:540:21:56

The postcode is for an area in Birmingham.

0:21:560:21:59

The police also discover that the car had been stolen

0:21:590:22:03

a few weeks earlier from the West Midlands area.

0:22:030:22:06

And then, more valuable information comes in.

0:22:060:22:09

A member of the public had found a mask and a metal bar together,

0:22:090:22:15

on an alleyway, very close to the dumped 4x4.

0:22:150:22:19

The mask and metal bar are sent for forensic analysis.

0:22:190:22:23

Detectives are dispatched to the Birmingham postcode,

0:22:250:22:27

with the task of finding nearby hardware stores

0:22:270:22:31

which might have sold the two axes.

0:22:310:22:33

And the first shop we go to,

0:22:330:22:37

the nearest one to that postcode, it's bingo.

0:22:370:22:40

Everything in that shop is marked with the same green labels

0:22:400:22:44

and we're on a winner.

0:22:440:22:45

The detectives talk to the shopkeeper.

0:22:450:22:49

We establish that two axes were sold the day before the robbery.

0:22:490:22:54

Two men came in to buy the axes.

0:22:540:22:56

One of them is a tall, slim Somali male,

0:22:560:23:01

with a distinctive gold tooth to the front of his mouth.

0:23:010:23:04

The second is an Asian male.

0:23:050:23:08

Then the forensic results from the mask

0:23:080:23:10

that had been found in the alleyway come back from the lab.

0:23:100:23:14

What we get back couldn't be better.

0:23:140:23:16

It's a full DNA hit from the mouthpiece of that mask.

0:23:160:23:20

That person is a Somali male, tall and slim,

0:23:200:23:24

with a gold tooth to the front of his mouth.

0:23:240:23:27

The police have enough evidence to arrest the man,

0:23:270:23:31

but they don't strike yet.

0:23:310:23:33

We've only identified one offender.

0:23:330:23:35

To arrest him without identifying the others creates a problem.

0:23:350:23:39

We could be alerting them, we could be losing evidence,

0:23:390:23:42

and we have to balance that against the risk of them

0:23:420:23:45

committing further offences before we go and lift them.

0:23:450:23:48

Investigators liaise with the West Midlands force

0:23:480:23:51

to try to identify the other man

0:23:510:23:53

who bought the axes from the hardware store.

0:23:530:23:56

His description bears a strong resemblance

0:23:560:23:58

to someone on their radar.

0:23:580:24:00

We do some work, intelligence-wise, and we get a name for the Asian man,

0:24:000:24:04

and they have a previous offending history for robbery.

0:24:040:24:07

So we've identified a second offender.

0:24:070:24:10

The third man they go after is the doorman,

0:24:100:24:14

the robber who held the shop door open for the rest of the gang.

0:24:140:24:18

He notably didn't hide his face from the cameras.

0:24:180:24:21

The fact that this fellow is... happy to wear no mask

0:24:210:24:26

tells us he's probably not known to police.

0:24:260:24:29

We can also see that this doorman's wearing

0:24:290:24:32

a distinctive blue jacket and what's also noticeable is the way he walks.

0:24:320:24:36

He's got quite a distinctive gait.

0:24:360:24:39

Someone's going to recognise this fellow.

0:24:390:24:41

And someone does.

0:24:410:24:43

Within days, information gathering

0:24:430:24:45

in and around the Birmingham postcode area yields a result.

0:24:450:24:49

We eventually get some intelligence

0:24:490:24:51

that gives us a firm identity for the doorman.

0:24:510:24:54

And we were right.

0:24:540:24:55

This individual, he had very little in the way of past offending.

0:24:550:24:59

He was known to police, but hadn't been convicted of any crime.

0:24:590:25:03

After a briefing with his superior, DS Dave Spate,

0:25:030:25:07

Nick mobilises an arrest team.

0:25:070:25:10

At the point we've identified three,

0:25:100:25:12

that balance is now set that we need to stop them

0:25:120:25:15

before they strike again.

0:25:150:25:17

We work together with West Midlands Police

0:25:170:25:20

and we plan three early morning arrests.

0:25:200:25:22

The police teams make dawn raids on three properties

0:25:220:25:26

and find each of the suspects asleep in bed.

0:25:260:25:29

I arrest the Somali male with the gold tooth.

0:25:300:25:33

In his bedroom is a laptop.

0:25:330:25:35

That laptop had been used to search

0:25:350:25:37

for news of an axe robbery in Leicester.

0:25:370:25:40

Officers at the address of the second suspect also find

0:25:400:25:45

a laptop that's been used to search for news of the robbery.

0:25:450:25:48

But it's different evidence that gives the third suspect away.

0:25:490:25:53

We're over the moon when we arrest him.

0:25:530:25:55

Lying by the side of the single bed is a jacket

0:25:550:25:58

exactly the same as the one we've seen on the CCTV.

0:25:580:26:02

Within the pocket of that jacket,

0:26:020:26:05

we find nearly a grand's-worth of class A drug.

0:26:050:26:09

He is well involved in criminality.

0:26:090:26:12

In the weeks that follow, Nick and the team gather

0:26:130:26:15

and piece together all the evidence,

0:26:150:26:17

including council CCTV of the gang's car en route to the crime.

0:26:170:26:22

By the time the case reached court,

0:26:230:26:25

two of the robbers saw little option but to plead guilty

0:26:250:26:28

to robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.

0:26:280:26:31

The man with a gold tooth, however, pleaded not guilty

0:26:330:26:36

and took his chance with a trial by jury,

0:26:360:26:39

and that turned out to be a big mistake.

0:26:390:26:42

He was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison.

0:26:460:26:49

The other two were sentenced to eight and five-year detention

0:26:520:26:55

in a young offenders institution.

0:26:550:26:57

Nick and the team were pleased with the result.

0:27:030:27:06

Sentences like these are why we do the job, and we were very happy

0:27:060:27:10

to be able to pass that result back to the victims.

0:27:100:27:13

They've had to endure the aftermath of that offence

0:27:130:27:17

and it's great to give them that result.

0:27:170:27:19

The police worked very hard.

0:27:200:27:23

I'm really happy as to what they have done.

0:27:230:27:27

They've really done a fantastic job.

0:27:270:27:29

Shrikant and his brothers have now invested

0:27:300:27:33

in even more security, including a double door system

0:27:330:27:36

to stop anyone gaining entry without their say-so.

0:27:360:27:40

They also clubbed together with other jewellers on the Golden Mile

0:27:400:27:43

to give Nick and the team a special award for their work on the case.

0:27:430:27:48

All the jewellers thought it would be very nice

0:27:490:27:51

to present the police with an award

0:27:510:27:54

because the police taking so much care has given us confidence

0:27:540:27:57

that, yes, we can work here, we can work here safely.

0:27:570:28:01

Anybody out there thinking of doing anything,

0:28:010:28:04

just be aware that you will get caught.

0:28:040:28:06

That's it for today.

0:28:120:28:14

And that's it for a few more criminals

0:28:140:28:16

who've been caught red-handed.

0:28:160:28:18

A jeweller must act fast when armed men attack his shop, a city unites to take on thieves who are targeting small businesses, and a couple use a baby buggy to steal a beer barrel but soon discover the local CCTV operator wasn't born yesterday.