Series looking at burglary - its culprits, its victims and the police. In this episode, an amateur dramatics group turns detective when their lighting equipment is stolen.
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Every single minute, there is a burglary in the UK.
SHE GASPS My jewellery! Oh, no!
It's an invasion of your personal space. Somebody has been in your house going through stuff.
It's not just your expensive gadgets that are under threat -
it's your priceless, irreplaceable heirlooms, too...
What's that football expression? You feel gutted.
..items of huge sentimental value.
Dad was very proud of his entire career in the flying service
so to have the medals stolen... I know he was absolutely devastated.
It can be a difficult time...
What's that saying? An Englishman's home is his castle.
..but dedicated teams of police are on the case...
..with specialist burglary units across the country
chasing down the villains...
-Just calm down.
-And let us do our checks.
..using every high-tech tool at their disposal,
working with the Good Samaritans among us...
Do you think you recognise them if you saw them again?
-Yeah, I think I probably would.
-..to make sure justice is done.
Their ultimate aim - to recover your prized possessions...
Just found a bag of sat navs.
..and return them to you.
-It's amazing, the work that they've done.
-And we've got all our stuff back.
I'm very pleased with the police, and they've been so good and kind.
I have nothing but gratitude for the efforts they've made.
This is Robbed, Raided, Reunited.
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you so much.
Thank you ever so, ever so much.
On today's programme, a family's home is ransacked,
leaving a young student's future in jeopardy...
On the computer there's my schoolwork from the past four or five years.
..but the hunt for the burglars leads to an unexpected result...
-Have you had a sat nav stolen?
-Did it look like that?
..and a local theatre group whose equipment is stolen
turn detective to make sure the show does go on.
Suddenly, one of our members saw the lighting control board
on the online auction site.
Southend-on-Sea is a visitor's playground,
but unfortunately for some residents,
it's also a burglar's playground.
At Southend Central police station, detectives Paul Brown
and Gary Jackets are due to interview two suspected burglars
caught red-handed this afternoon with two bags of stolen goods.
When he made off, he ran quite a way, didn't he?
I'll quote you something from this statement.
"I was 10m away from him, the visibility was good
-turned and looked at me,
"beyond the green metal fence that he had just climbed,
"the suspect dropped the holdall that he was carrying
"and made off out of my sight."
The officers want to have a closer look at where the suspects were caught.
I'm just going on Street Map
to see if we can get a better look at the area.
They still don't know where they got stolen items from.
So he's jumped over here and he's in here
and then he ran over the other side, I imagine.
Yeah, but he was the other side of that fence
when he looked at him and dropped the bag and ran.
Basically, we're getting all our evidence together
and information for interview so we know what we're talking about
when we go in there and we know what questions we can put to the suspects.
We have two guys in custody at the moment
who are known to us for dwelling burglaries.
They've got on them items that unquestionably aren't theirs
so they're going to have to account for that.
So now is up to them to tell us where they got the stuff from.
And the time they have to find out the full story is heavily regulated.
They can be here for up to 24 hours.
If we deem necessary, we can go to the superintendent
and get an extension for another 12 hours.
Southend-on-Sea has a lower than average rate of burglaries,
but when they do happen they are just as traumatic.
The Peer family have come from work
to discover their entire house has been ransacked.
I think the word that sums up my feelings now is "violated".
Not only has stuff been nicked, but we're going to have to replace the doors.
What's been happening?
Scenes Of Crime officer Paul Clark arrives to start the investigation.
How have they got in?
The back patio door has been jimmied.
I came in from work, I picked my son up from school, came in,
turned on the lights, saw the stuff on the floor and thought,
"That's a bit odd," looked down the room and saw the laptop had gone
and I said, "Hang on - don't touch anything. I think we've been burgled."
The burglars have forced the patio doors.
Has that got a lock? Yeah, it has as well, hasn't it?
I mean, this is obviously quite thick aluminium here, but it's...
Yeah, but inside they've done the same.
-My main concern is securing it tonight.
Just make sure there's no blood or anything on there.
It's quite sharp as well, isn't it?
The police are keen to gather any trace of DNA
that might lead them to a suspect.
They've broken the side of the shed.
The burglars appear to have used
the victim's own possessions to break-in.
Yeah, I mean, the padlock's still intact,
but with wood, obviously, they've just ripped the whole thing off.
I mean, people think of burglars walking around with a big crowbar,
but it's easier to go to someone's house
and find something at the house that they can use.
We think that these items which have been taken out the shed,
which unfortunately are soaking wet now, but there's...
..this item here which could have been used.
It's obviously something quite big for it actually bend all that,
and this part as well.
Obviously here quite a while trying to get in.
They didn't appear to be too worried about the noise they were making
and we've established that it's probably happened
between two o'clock and four o'clock in the afternoon.
-The Xbox was sitting here and the transducer thing across the back.
They've taken one handset, but not that one.
They've taken his iPod that was on here,
been in his wallet, taken the money that was in there - it was about 20 quid...
The burglars have been through every room in the house.
-The other one, this is... My other son's at uni.
-This is his tin that were sitting on there.
-So they've opened that.
That's all that was in it. Just old change.
-The other computer was laying down there. That's gone.
I know my son was upset. Just the look on his face,
and he was going round and it was nearly all his stuff.
-This is your bedroom?
-Yes. They've been in there. There was loads of rings.
-They've taken the ones that were worth money.
The television that they've moved. OK.
The electrical goods can be replaced,
but as dad Mike reflects, memories can't.
When my father died, my brother and myself and my mother
each bought something to remind us of him
and the ring has markings on, initials, and a small diamond.
There's also some of my late mother's rings - not very valuable -
and a watch she had as well.
It's the sentimental value.
And perhaps I was foolish leaving it on the bedside,
but you just don't think of these things.
It's not just the past that's been stolen from the family -
it could be their future, too.
Son Nick has an interview at Cambridge University next week,
but one of the items stolen was his laptop
with all his academic files and documents on it.
He's got an interview on the 9th at Cambridge
and he needs to do some research before he goes for the interview
which he was going to start tonight.
There's my schoolwork from the past four or five years.
There's coursework I was going to hand in on Monday,
there's notes for books I've got to read,
there's various pieces of other work, there's essays,
and there's also my personal files,
so music and photos and things like that.
With the prospect of Nick's education now in jeopardy,
all in all, it's been a miserable night for the family.
But coming up...
A startling connection between the two cases leads to a breakthrough.
We've recovered quite a large amount of property. We're hoping it is your stuff.
And Officer Brown and his team pay the burglary suspect's home a visit.
I've got a search warrant,
if you don't open the door we'll force the entry.
-Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?
-Yes - who has called?
-Lord Darlington, my lady.
In Romford, Essex, a community drama group - The Guildonian Players -
meets every week to rehearse in the local church.
But one evening in September 2011,
Suzy Faulkner and her group made a shocking discovery.
One of the church members came in to me and said, "We've had a burglary.
"Have you got anything missing?"
And then I opened our stage management office
and discovered that our lighting control board
and all our sound control equipment had gone.
The way that the burglars got in,
they broke a window in the playschool area
and they managed to find the keys.
They basically went wherever they could find a key that fitted.
They opened the doors and in the few places
where there was something they couldn't get into,
they broke the locks.
The items the burglars stole
were vital to the running of the drama group -
their high-tech light control desk and sound equipment.
The lighting equipment we replaced about three or four years ago.
The sound equipment - our most recent purchase - just cost us so much
and, of course, since now, all gone, so we start from square one again.
The theatre group had invested a huge amount of time and energy
raising the money to buy the expensive equipment.
Without it, it was clear the show could not go on.
Their next performance was due within weeks,
rehearsals nearly complete, tickets already sold.
The drama group may have been facing their final curtain.
The Guildonian Players was formed 66 years ago
and is run by volunteers from the local community.
We are all unpaid. We do it because we love doing it.
Every year the group puts on plays
to raise money for maintenance work on the church.
An essential part of the community,
the church also provides vital services for local people.
The theft of the equipment would have a massive impact -
not just on the play, but also on the group's fundraising efforts.
We'd got to plays about to be produced only weeks away.
We were looking into hiring equipment,
which would take away from any funding
that we could get from that play.
We were very, very worried.
Days passed and the police reported little progress in the case.
Lighting engineer Nigel Cooke decided to surf the internet,
desperately looking in case someone try to sell the stolen equipment.
And there was a sighting.
After six days, suddenly, one of our members
saw the lighting control board on the online auction site.
Nigel had discovered their lighting desk was being sold online.
Lo and behold, this board came up with lots of pictures of it
and it was so identifiable because even stickers that I'd put on,
like, pre-show, they were still on the board.
The guys hadn't even removed that when they tried to sell it.
It was for sale with a local second-hand dealer
who had bought the light-box without realising it was stolen.
Nigel went straight to the shop,
but he still had to prove the equipment belonged to the group.
They asked me how could I finally identify it
from something that wasn't visible
and I told them it was the lid.
Our lighting engineer had written on the box "base" and "top"
so that when we opened it we didn't open it the wrong way up.
Without looking at it, he was able to say these things,
so it was very obvious that it was ours.
It was a remarkable discovery,
but not everything stolen could be recovered.
Sadly, the sound equipment wasn't there.
The assistant manager told us,
"Yes, it had been there until the Saturday morning."
If we'd only seen the online auction site sooner,
we might have recovered all of the equipment.
The audio equipment couldn't be traced,
but thankfully the group had managed to borrow some.
With the imminent return of the lighting desk, the play was back on.
However, the police needed to carry out
forensic tests on the desk before returning it.
The group were left with another agonising wait.
We didn't know whether we were going to get the equipment back,
whether they were going to hold it for the court and so we waited.
Finally, with only three days left,
The Guildonian Players' lighting desk was returned
and the show could go on.
-That dammed poster.
-Jumper and breeches.
Standing at the back seeing the lights working properly
as they should do is just great.
The play proved a great success, raising over £1,000 for the church.
It just goes to show, sometimes
a bit of amateur detective work does pay off.
Earlier, we were in Southend where police had arrested two men
carrying stolen goods in broad daylight.
They've got on them items that unquestionably aren't theirs.
Later that day, the Peer family
reported they'd been burgled while they were out.
It's the sentimental value
and perhaps I was foolish leaving it on the bedside,
but you just don't think of these things.
They had several thousand pounds worth of their possessions stolen,
including a laptop which contained vital coursework
for son Nick's interview at Cambridge University.
I know my son was upset. Just the look on his face,
and he was going round and it was nearly all his stuff.
It's now 5pm. Detectives Paul Brown and Gary jackets from Southend CID
have been briefed on the Peer's burglary.
We've got here a map of where the action took place,
where they were seen, where they were arrested
and were they made off from. So now it's up to them to tell us
where they got the stuff from and if they did that burglary.
They decide it's worth taking the goods seized
from the two suspected burglars that afternoon over to the house.
At the Peer family home,
Scene Of Crime officer Clark is determined to gather fingerprints.
We spend quite a lot of time looking at the point of entry
because that's where we tend to find quite a lot of our finger marks,
because normally you've either got to force something or get through a small gap
and you're more likely to leave your fingerprints.
At 5.30pm, detectives Brown and Jackets arrive at the house.
-Have you reported a burglary?
Yeah, PC Brown from Southend police station.
We've recovered quite a large amount of property.
We've got it all with us so we're hoping it is your stuff.
What do you know is missing at the moment?
We've got a list.
A lot of stuff, I have to say, at the moment matching that description
we have with us, so hopefully that's good.
But what about the all-important laptop,
critical to Nick's Cambridge prospects?
Were just trying to identify that this is the same laptop
that was stolen from his house earlier on today
is the one that we've recovered.
What's the password? NICK ANSWERS INDISTINCTLY
If it is Nick's, it will also connect
the two suspects with this exact crime.
And the first thing down there should be the Google Chrome logo.
Is that fair to say that is...?
-Yes, and there's Google Chrome there.
This is a remarkable break-through
reuniting the family with most of their stolen items.
I'm happy it's all back.
Less destructive than if it hadn't been found.
And because it's happened so quickly,
there's plenty more time to question the suspects about the other items they've stolen.
It's surprising, really, isn't it?
That they manage to get it. Which is quite nice.
These, I think, were known criminals
that they've caught that have just come out
from wherever they were tucked away.
I don't know what their age is or anything.
Just low-life that have probably got nothing better to do.
I'd just like to meet them.
Officer Brown is pleased with the night's work.
It's just a good result, you know?
And we're hoping, obviously, the people's fingerprints
will be on the stuff, because that'll tie them to the property
which will then tie them to the burglary. Fingers crossed.
The two suspects are questioned overnight.
They won't say what has happened to the Peer family's jewellery,
but have revealed two addresses they use.
Officer Brown and his raid squad
head for the addresses first thing the next morning.
What we'll be looking for is anything used to commit burglaries
and anything from burglaries.
We know these guys are active burglars anyway
and we've had loads of burglaries in this area,
so there is a likelihood there may be property there
from other burglaries or from this burglary,
so we'll see when we get inside.
Can I have an entry code, please?
The family of one of the lads in custody.
I think his dad lives there. Whether he'll be there not, we don't know.
Come to the door - it's the police.
Police officers, come to the door now or the door will be forced.
-Stop! All right!
-Open the door!
Once inside, they must establish exactly who's there.
-Is anyone else here?
-No, it's only me here.
Only the suspect's father is present
and is told exactly why they are there.
Obviously we've got the authority
to search the premises under section 18 of PACE.
-The aim is to try and find stolen goods.
And anything in relation to a burglary.
That's the reason we're here at the moment.
Paul and his team must meticulously go through the flat
to see if any of the contents could be stolen.
Unruly kids can often make their parents' life a misery,
but for this dad, having a serial burglar has a son
is getting beyond a joke.
I know the police have been here a few times before, haven't they?
But I haven't done anything. They've taken my stuff before
because of my boys then come round and give it back to me
and I've lost my stuff twice now because of their aggro.
I ain't involved, I'll tell you that. I don't get involved.
Nevertheless, Paul's team must conduct a thorough search.
We're looking for things like boxes of jewellery,
new electrical items that they just wouldn't have here.
If they've got any Xboxes or Wiis. Cos obviously,
when you're somewhere like this, things stick out a bit more.
It looks like Paul and his officers
have drawn a blank at the first address,
although they are going to take some martial arts equipment
to see if it's involved in any offences.
He's going to sign them over for us.
Not the normal thing that I'd keep in my house.
Undeterred, the raid team move on.
The second address belongs to the pregnant girlfriend
of one of the suspects who lives in the same block of flats.
It's police officers, can you come to the door, please?
We've got a search warrant.
If you don't open the door, we'll force entry.
THEY BANG ON DOOR
It's not clear if she's at home...
All right, stand clear of the door.
..but the team must be sure no-one is near the door
and at risk of being hit by shattered wood and metal.
-Can you hear something?
-That's next door.
False alarm - the baby crying is from next door
so Dan gets on with the job in hand.
Not too exciting.
There's no-one at home
and there doesn't seem to be anything else here either.
Yeah, sometimes that happens, but it's clear she's just moved in,
she's decorating the place, so we'll get the door boarded up and we'll go.
Cos as you can tell, there's absolutely nothing here - not even any carpets -
so I don't think there's a great deal were going to be seizing.
But just as it looks like another dead end...
There's a bag of sat navs here.
It's unusual to have three sat navs. Most people have only got ONE.
If you've got an old one, you chuck 'em away.
The fella in custody is known for stealing from cars,
Him and his brother have been at it a long while
and these will hopefully be returned to someone who owns them. Result.
Back at the station, officer Gary Jackets has made good progress
on the original burglary at the Peer family's home.
We've had results back from Fingerprints,
we've had a positive fingerprint for one of the suspects
come back on a laptop and also on a cash tin
that was not taken from the house,
so it never left the house as far as we're concerned,
it stayed in the house,
and it's got one of the suspects' fingerprints on.
So that puts them in the house.
Liz was particularly interested
in who could have done such a heartless thing to her family.
Just low-life that probably have nothing better to do.
Now Gary is keen to let her know justice is being done
and to put her mind at rest.
All the paperwork is being put before the Crown Prosecution Service
and they've recommended they both be charged with dwelling burglary.
-Will they stay in custody?
Or are you going to let them out on bail?
No, I didn't mention that, sorry - no, they're on remand now
so they'll be before the judge tomorrow morning.
-And they'll either be let out tomorrow
or they'll stay in prison until the case,
which'll probably be mid January or early February.
Oh, OK. So are they likely to be detained?
I'd be very disappointed if they're not.
The officers must now trace the owners of the stolen sat navs.
The sat navs that were found in the address,
obviously gone through the history
and looked on to the home screen for the home address.
We've got two addresses to try, to try and locate the owners of these two sat navs.
The hope is that the home address programmed into the sat nav
will lead them to someone also burgled by the suspects
and they can be reunited with their property.
Hello there. Police officers from Southend.
-Nothing to worry about at all. Have you had a sat nav stolen?
-Did it look like that?
We found this in someone's address
and the home address comes back to here
-so I'm guessing this is your sat nav.
-That's a bit of good news anyway, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is - I'm very surprised!
I thought I'd never see that any more so I feel very good, yeah.
It's another victory in the battle to beat the burglars.
I can confirm it is their sat nav, so result.
Apart from two phones, all of the Peer family's stolen items
have been recovered, including their jewellery.
Nick, aided by his reunited laptop,
passed his interview at Cambridge
and has been offered a place to study philosophy.
The martial-arts equipment seized wasn't connected to further offences
and the stolen sat nav wasn't proven to be linked to the suspects.
But the older suspect did plead guilty to the Peer family's burglary
and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
The second suspect also later pleaded guilty
and was sentenced to 16 months.
In Romford, the show has gone on
despite the theft of vital technical equipment.
The drama group continued to perform using their returned lighting desk
and borrowed audio equipment while they save for replacement.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
In this episode, burglars target a family's home, stealing a laptop containing vital research for their son's upcoming interview at Cambridge University; and an amateur dramatics group turns detective when their lighting and sound equipment is stolen.