Episode 14 Robbed, Raided, Reunited


Episode 14

Series looking at burglary - its culprits, its victims and the police. In this episode, an eagle-eyed witness comes to the rescue when a marching band has their van stolen.


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Transcript


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'Teams of police are fighting a rise in burglaries across the UK.'

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He left his phone.

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My Timberlands have gone!

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Oh!

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Oh, for God's sake!

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The people that do this are professionals.

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This is what they do for a living.

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'Specialist units working with the latest technology...

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'..and the community-minded among us...'

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I wondered if you heard anything.

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'..to track down the thieves...'

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Hold it right there! Stop!

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'..and make sure they are held to account.

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'It's not just our expensive gadgets that are being taken from us.'

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They just went in, took what they could and went.

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'It's our cherished heirlooms, too.'

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The thing that upset me most was the loss of my mother's engagement ring.

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It's going to take a while to just...

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get used to what's happened and get over it.

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'Items that mean the world to us.'

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Very upset over it, really.

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'But police officers love nothing more

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'than to recover these prized possessions...'

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I can confirm it is their sat-nav, so result!

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'..and return them to us.'

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I didn't expect to see it again.

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To get those items back to people is really fantastic.

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I think the owners might be crying in happy tears.

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The police are amazing.

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I am for ever indebted to them.

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This is Robbed...

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Raided...Reunited.

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Thanks very much.

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I never thought I'd see this again.

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I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

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'On today's programme,

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'Essex Police are on the case of thieves targeting lorries.'

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I was in the middle of the road, trying to pull you over.

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'The extraordinary story of lorry drivers who have their goods stolen

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'from right under their noses whilst asleep in their cabs.'

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You can't park anywhere without getting anything pinched.

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'And the future looks grim for a marching band

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'after all their instruments are stolen.'

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I was cross that someone could do it to all these children

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that work so hard and come year in, year out

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every week to come and play.

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'The port at Tilbury in Essex is the third largest container port in the UK,

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'handling over four million tonnes of cargo each year.

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'Lorry parks are dotted around the area, where drivers bed down for the night.

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'Vehicles are sitting ducks for thieves, known as Bladers,

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'as they use knives to slash sides of the trailers.'

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I wouldn't be able to sleep at night, thinking,

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is there somebody out there about to attack my load or my diesel?

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'Unbelievably, they also drain fuel

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'whilst the drivers are asleep less than two metres away.'

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You're looking at £500, £600 for a tank load of fuel. Easy money.

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You haven't got anything you shouldn't have?

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'In Operation Blade, Essex Police patrol the lorry parks

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'day at night around Tilbury and Grays.

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'It's 11:30pm and PC Mick Finch is called to an incident.'

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Usually only certain people move around in their vehicles at night.

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That's taxi drivers, the emergency service and villains.

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SIRENS WAIL

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'Police have had a call from a lorry driver on the main approach road to the docks

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'where dozens of lorries park up each night.'

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-So, what lorry was it that's been done?

-It's, um...

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-The one at the front as well?

-Third one back in the line

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-is the one that's been done.

-Right. OK.

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We'll walk down.

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Hello. Is it your lorry that's been...?

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Yeah, this one here.

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I never heard a thing. This lad here saw them

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running up and down the bank with the cans.

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They're obviously quiet. You don't hear a thing.

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-You saw them out of the cab, didn't you?

-Yeah.

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I just heard a noise and I actually looked out the window

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and I could actually see them going up and down the bank.

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One person with the can.

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They've managed to get the cap off. It's a locking cap,

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so somehow they've managed to force that off with some implement.

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They've managed to, er...siphon the diesel

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from the tank into plastic containers

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and then take it back to their waiting vehicle.

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They've driven off, so, er...

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I just came to have a look, to see what was about.

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That's where we were. This is a road they've used before.

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Um...

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I've just spoken to one of the officers.

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They've got the cans back with quite a bit of fuel, they're going to bring around.

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So at least he'll get some of his fuel back.

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They had a vehicle over there and they've driven off.

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Thieves have been using plastic bottles to steal diesel from the lorry

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and take it to their waiting car.

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They got away with £450 worth of fuel.

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Diesel theft is a big problem.

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A survey by the Road Hauliers' Association

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showed that more than half the respondents

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had been victims of fuel theft.

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This isn't the first time that this has happened to driver Keith.

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I had this one done about three or four weeks ago at Peterborough.

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The same again, 300 litres.

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I was parked in a lay-by overnight.

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It's getting to the point where you can't park anywhere without getting anything pinched.

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Keith's not only lost his fuel, he's also lost a night's sleep.

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You're not going to go back to sleep now

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cos you're that restless.

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You've just got to find the nearest fuel station and fuel up again

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with extra cost to what you've lost.

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INDISTINCT RADIO

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TruckPol, the police intelligence unit for freight vehicles,

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estimated that over £25 million of goods

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was stolen from trucks in the UK in 2010.

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At midnight, PC Chapman is off to another Operation Blade incident.

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If you spied three blokes in a lay-by

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attempting to break into a lorry to get at the cargo inside,

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units disturb them.

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Our controllers try and direct units in as we speak.

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-There's one made off...

-Yeah, made off from a...

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You know the trigger gun we've got in place, for the theft from motor vehicles.

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As we were driving in, they were coming out in this.

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Just as we're all converging at the right time.

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These two have been detained coming in for that. Stay mobile, see what we can do.

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Yeah. All right. No worries.

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Four suspects, initially. One detained at scene.

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Two made off in this vehicle here, which is a Fiesta.

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It was subsequently stopped by the traffic units.

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Two detained from there and then there's one outstanding. Units have gone mobile,

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and they'll see if they can find him.

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-You'll be glad to know we've got three out of...

-Brilliant.

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On the ball today.

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-You didn't hear them?

-Nothing.

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Three youths have been caught trying to break into the back of an HGV, whilst a fourth is still on the run.

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PC Chapman takes a statement from the driver about the incident.

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-Hello, mate. Are you all right?

-All right.

-All right, mate.

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I've just got to take a quick statement off you. Nothing too major.

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-Did they disturb you at all? Didn't hear nothing, no?

-No.

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That is a whopping big padlock.

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OK. We'll just take a quick statement off you, detailing what the score was

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and what time you parked up. It won't take too long and we'll go from there.

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-Happy with that?

-Yeah.

-Lovely. No worries.

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The driver was asleep in his cab.

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It was a passing police patrol that spotted the men breaking into the lorry.

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I was sleeping in the lay-by, waiting to go in the docks.

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I can't move until quarter past six.

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All I hear is the police knock on the door.

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"Just check that these seals are yours.

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"We think they tried to break into yours." And they had.

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I can't get in it.

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You've got to be careful on this job where you park. I thought this was safe here.

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Obviously, it isn't.

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You get all sorts knocking on your cab doors.

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Luckily, tonight, it was the police.

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This vehicle is carrying bathrooms, kitchens...

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Where we get vehicles that are broken into

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there's Armani suits, IP3 players,

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Nintendo games.

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Basically, it's the luck of the draw.

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These people that are doing the crimes don't know what's in these vehicles,

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until they're broken into and sometimes it's pot luck what they get.

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A lot of these drivers, it's their own vehicles.

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It's their livelihood, it's their living.

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The curtain-sided containers, they cost thousands to repair

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so if they're the owner of these, it's initial cost to have that repaired.

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Sometimes, they have to reimburse the companies. Could lose contracts. It has an effect on their living.

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-Thanks a lot.

-Cheers.

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The thieves chose the wrong vehicle to try and break into

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as it is a steel-sided, well-secured lorry.

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You have security tags that are put on at time of loading

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to ensure the integrity of the load.

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I think what these lads have done is, not being very clever,

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they've probably mistaken those for the actual seals, thinking that this is something else.

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They've cut those off initially, tried to open them

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and realised that it's got a huge padlock bolt across here.

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How they were going to get through that I have no idea,

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with bolt cutters, which is what they were found with.

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You won't be able to bolt cut that. A bit amateur, to be honest.

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They didn't have a clue what was in there.

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The standard MO is to find a curtain-sided lorry,

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cut a hole in the side and look through, see what's in there.

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If you've got boxes, cut a hole in the box, see if there's anything worth taking.

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What they were going to do here I don't really know.

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Not the cleverest thing in the entire history of the world but, erm, yeah. Foiled.

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Coming up - PC Swain gets a surprise when he finds a man

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hiding in the boot of a car.

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Hello. Jump out, please.

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Lorry crime is not restricted to the industrial areas around docks,

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as John Dimmock of the Nexus Drum & Bugle Corps found out.

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About five years ago, we realised that we needed a lorry

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with the type of equipment we were carrying about

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and the distance we were travelling.

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We couldn't fit everything in the coach so we decided to purchase a lorry.

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We had to raise about £4,000.

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To buy the instruments that we needed,

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already this year, we've spent about £20,000.

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With their new instruments, the band was on a high.

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A thank you concert for all the fundraisers was planned for

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Friday 28th October.

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So on the Thursday night, the vehicle was loaded, ready for

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the big event on the Friday.

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At 7am on the Friday morning,

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staff at the warehouse where the van was stored

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rang Elizabeth McLernen, one of the band's organisers, with a question.

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I was on my way to work the next morning

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and I had a phone call from the gentleman that runs our warehouse.

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He asked me where the truck was.

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I went, "In the yard." He went, "No."

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The van, with over £20,000 of instruments,

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had been stolen.

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I was gutted by the news and found it difficult to comprehend what was going on.

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When I was told the truck had been stolen, I was devastated.

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It was our life on that truck, really.

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Everything we have worked for for the past ten years,

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all the money that we'd raised to buy new instruments.

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To realise it had all gone was devastating.

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The future of the band was in the balance.

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Not only had they lost their lorry, they lost all their instruments in one night.

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When we came in on the next practice,

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we had instruments that were falling apart.

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It wasn't nice to play on because they didn't sound good.

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Many band members feared for the safety of their instruments.

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We didn't know where the instruments had gone

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or what had happened to them,

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if they'd been melted down for something else.

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Immediately, Bedfordshire Police scour the area

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to try to track down the missing lorry.

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SIRENS WAIL

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The band members were so desperate to get their instruments back,

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they decided to help the police by spreading the word about the theft.

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I decided we had to do a few things to support the police, to find out

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where the vehicle had gone and where our equipment was.

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We got in contact with all the local newspapers,

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and we also rung the local TV station to see if they could help.

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After 36 hours, there had been no sightings of the lorry.

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The band feared their instruments could already be out of the country.

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On Monday morning, local TV broadcast the story of the theft

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and appealed for help.

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By that evening, it seemed to have done the trick.

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A gentleman, who drinks in one of the local clubs

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in the next village, saw it parked when he was on his way to work.

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He only knew that because of the TV coverage that we had.

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The lorry was found 17 miles away, abandoned,

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damaged and drained of fuel.

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At first, there was huge relief but then there was a problem.

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The police not only wanted to carry out forensic tests,

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they also wanted the recovery of the lorry to be kept secret to help them catch the thieves.

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For the band, it was an agonising wait.

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Although it was an exciting time, it was a little bit

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sort of worrying that the biggest amount of value, really, would have been inside the lorry.

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I was texting everyone, asking them if they knew anything,

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trying to find out what was going on, whether we'd get them back.

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It was just a nightmare for those few days.

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As the days passed, nerves were stretched to breaking point.

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Finally they got the go-ahead to check their lorry.

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When I opened the lock, to our surprise and jubilation, really,

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all the equipment was inside.

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When they'd been found, oh, it was just such a relief.

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All that money hadn't been thrown away

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and we did have all our new instruments back and we could still use them.

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MUSIC: "Wind Beneath My Wings"

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I was over the moon when they were back.

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It was brilliant. Relief to know we'd got it back

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and that everything that we'd worked for was back.

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But it was not all good news.

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The lorry was a write-off,

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so the band needs to raise money for a new one.

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Undeterred by the shocking theft, the Nexus Drum & Bugle Corps

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is looking forward to making music for many years to come.

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Everybody is very, very excited.

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We can move forwards, we can move onwards,

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so we can play the music we want to play and we can enjoy ourselves.

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So it's really, really good.

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Earlier, we were out with Essex Police catching Bladers -

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thieves who slash lorries and steal goods,

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or drain fuel from parked lorries.

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They've already made three arrests for attempting to break into a lorry

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crammed with expensive kitchen parts.

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It's the following night and PCs Martin Swain

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and Gemma Britten are setting off to patrol the lorry parks.

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RADIO CRACKLES

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At 12:30am, PC Britten spots some men

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asleep in a car near a lorry park.

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-Hello. Is this your car?

-Yes.

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-Are you staying here long?

-Er, we're waiting for here.

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We have a meeting in the morning.

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OK, have you got any ID on you, anything with your name on it?

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-Have you got any ID?

-Sure, yes.

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-In the back?

-My brother.

-Your brother?

-Yes.

-OK.

-Yeah?

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Can I see your ID, please?

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As a matter of routine,

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PC Swain goes to check out the men's details.

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Suddenly, PC Britten spots a car pulling out of the lorry park

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and heading towards them.

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The driver either hasn't seen PC Swain

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or doesn't want to talk to him.

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-Did you see where they're going?

-No.

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-RADIO CRACKLES

-'You're probably in the middle of a check.

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'But does the car appear suspicious in the circumstances?'

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No, not at the moment.

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We just had a suss vehicle that failed to stop for us.

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It's a VW Golf.

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Ends in Juliet, Foxtrot, Kilo or something similar.

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Could have gone down the 1089 or into Tilbury. Tilbury, I reckon.

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-Didn't go into ASDA, did it?

-Don't think so.

-Oh!

-Try Tilbury.

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I saw him go in.

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-RADIO:

-'Yeah, have you got a vehicle?'

-Yeah.

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We were in a lorry park doing a stop check on a vehicle.

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And another vehicle's come into the lorry park,

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it's got at least four or five males in the car.

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I've asked the car to stop and it's gone straight past me.

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You get a lot of vehicles with several people in them

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going to lorry parks at night.

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They could be stealing anything from the lorries,

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they could be siphoning fuel from the lorries.

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They've lost the car.

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So PC Swain contacts other patrols to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

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Yeah, received. Could you possibly do some intel around the road,

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and can we get that put on the hot list, please?

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He's definitely up to no good. I think there's Bladers out tonight.

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There was a lot of them in it.

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And they just ignored the fact that we wanted them to stop.

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We're still looking for this vehicle.

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We're just checking out all the areas nearby that they might have dumped it and gone out on foot

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because they knew we would spin around and look for them.

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We're just going to widen the search now and look in different areas.

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-It's frustrating, isn't it?

-Hmm.

0:19:160:19:19

All they can do is search the empty streets

0:19:200:19:22

in the hope that they spot the car again.

0:19:220:19:24

-RADIO:

-'He's parked out on 280.'

0:19:250:19:28

Yeah, received.

0:19:280:19:31

It's either gone down the 1089 at speed,

0:19:310:19:35

or into Tilbury, I think.

0:19:350:19:36

-RADIO:

-'I'll head that way.'

0:19:390:19:41

He's coming in behind us.

0:19:410:19:43

We'll just continue to look for it.

0:19:430:19:46

Suddenly PCs Swain and Britten get a call saying the vehicle they are

0:19:480:19:51

searching for has returned home.

0:19:510:19:54

The vehicle that we are looking for, a unit has just seen it parked

0:19:550:19:58

outside of the home address that the car's registered to.

0:19:580:20:01

Males have been seen to go into the address

0:20:010:20:04

so we're just going to make our way there now.

0:20:040:20:07

Hopefully get to speak to them and find out what they've been up to.

0:20:070:20:10

I think it might be this car here.

0:20:140:20:17

When they arrive at the address, another unit is already there

0:20:170:20:21

and an officer is questioning the owner of the car.

0:20:210:20:24

Hello. You all right there?

0:20:240:20:26

I was pretty obviously in the middle of the road trying to pull you over.

0:20:290:20:32

You went past me and you didn't stop. All right? I can arrest you for that.

0:20:320:20:37

I can report you for that. It's all well and good standing here and saying sorry.

0:20:370:20:40

We will place an information report on your car.

0:20:400:20:43

-You will get pulled over in it, cos you are out in it late at night.

-Fair enough.

0:20:430:20:46

We're going to search your car under Section 1, looking for stolen items

0:20:460:20:49

and things like that.

0:20:490:20:51

-Is there anything in the car that shouldn't be in the car?

-No.

0:20:510:20:54

They're looking for items which can be used to break into lorries

0:21:000:21:04

or drain fuel from tanks.

0:21:040:21:06

Hosepiping, um, containers - that kind of thing,

0:21:060:21:09

if they're siphoning any fuel.

0:21:090:21:11

The car is searched and PC Swain finds a latex glove on the back seat.

0:21:130:21:17

Do any of you work as a doctor? It's a latex glove.

0:21:180:21:22

-You don't know who that belongs to, no?

-No.

-Hmm.

0:21:250:21:29

It's not an offence to carry tools or gloves in your car,

0:21:300:21:33

but when combined with unusual late-night activity,

0:21:330:21:36

the police are suspicious.

0:21:360:21:38

-Are you working in the morning?

-Yeah.

-What time?

-Six o'clock.

-Six o'clock?

0:21:390:21:44

-And you're out after midnight?

-Yeah, I know.

-Just driving about?

0:21:440:21:49

Most people would just be in bed, wouldn't they?

0:21:490:21:52

We'll let you go, all right?

0:21:520:21:53

It's not worth risking your job over, is it?

0:21:530:21:56

No, no, that's it. It's not worth it.

0:21:560:21:58

-OK, off you go then.

-Thank you very much.

0:21:580:22:01

There is not enough evidence for an arrest.

0:22:030:22:06

But for PC Swain it was still worth tracking down the car.

0:22:060:22:10

It's worth sticking the car on the system

0:22:100:22:12

and we'll keep an eye on it in case it comes out late at night

0:22:120:22:15

and keep stopping it and find out who's driving it.

0:22:150:22:19

Later that night at 1:30am,

0:22:220:22:25

PCs Swain and Britten stop a car that is on the list of known vehicles to Operation Blade.

0:22:250:22:29

I think this is a Blade car.

0:22:290:22:32

Yeah, it is.

0:22:320:22:33

We're just going to stop this car.

0:22:350:22:36

We think we know who the occupants are and they're known Op Blade offenders.

0:22:360:22:40

Have you got any ID on you? You haven't.

0:22:450:22:48

Going west and into Purfleet.

0:22:500:22:53

-Let me fetch it out.

-OK, just bear with me.

0:22:530:22:56

You went through a red light, which is why we've stopped you.

0:22:560:23:00

Do you know what threw me, there was a car...

0:23:000:23:02

We've got a Blade vehicle stopped. Several people inside it.

0:23:020:23:05

There was a car. He stopped. I don't know why he stopped.

0:23:050:23:08

When he stopped I thought he'd gone through a red light, so I went.

0:23:080:23:11

Well, it was red and you did go through

0:23:110:23:13

and that's why I've stopped you.

0:23:130:23:15

-Give me my car keys, mate.

-Gem?

0:23:150:23:17

Why do you waste your time asking questions when you can...?

0:23:170:23:20

-I'm asking you.

-What's the point?

0:23:200:23:23

Because the driver is getting jumpy,

0:23:230:23:25

PC Swain decides to search the vehicle.

0:23:250:23:28

OK, we're going to give you a search and the vehicle a search.

0:23:280:23:32

Have you got anything on you you shouldn't have?

0:23:320:23:34

All I've got on me is a phone, there's a pair of gloves in there.

0:23:340:23:37

If this is a Blader's car, the officers will expect to find tools,

0:23:370:23:42

keys or other items that have been used in criminal activities.

0:23:420:23:45

Do you work in the car trade, do you?

0:23:450:23:48

I buy and sell cars, that's why I go to traders.

0:23:480:23:50

As PC Swain opens the boot...

0:23:520:23:55

Like I said, if you want to waste your time...

0:23:550:23:59

Who knows.

0:23:590:24:01

Hello!

0:24:010:24:03

..they were not expecting that.

0:24:030:24:05

Jump out, please.

0:24:050:24:07

The man in the boot is known to PC Swain as he had been filmed

0:24:070:24:11

nine days earlier.

0:24:110:24:12

Why didn't you want to tell us about...

0:24:120:24:14

Can you stop the vehicle?

0:24:140:24:15

-Stop the vehicle.

-You should really keep all your tools in your boot.

0:24:150:24:19

I'll put them in the boot now if you want.

0:24:190:24:21

So why didn't you want to tell us about ... being in the car?

0:24:210:24:24

-Didn't see him.

-You didn't see him in your car?

-No.

0:24:240:24:27

I thought you'd seen him from the front.

0:24:270:24:29

We've searched the car and the males in the car

0:24:290:24:33

and we've found a number of items - a couple of radios, some gloves,

0:24:330:24:37

screwdrivers, a torch.

0:24:370:24:39

Um...they're the items we're looking for for people that are committing these offences.

0:24:390:24:43

The man hidden in the boot confirms PC Swain's suspicions

0:24:430:24:47

and he feels there is enough evidence to warrant an arrest.

0:24:470:24:50

At the moment I'm putting you under arrest on suspicion of...

0:24:500:24:54

BLEEP

0:24:540:24:55

-HE READS HIM HIS RIGHTS

-It was a spanner!

0:24:550:25:00

..will be given in evidence. All right?

0:25:010:25:04

Those are meant for...

0:25:070:25:09

-BLEEP

-I went to get an orange juice. Go and check the cameras.

0:25:090:25:12

You've been arrested for the stuff found in your car.

0:25:120:25:14

-That's nonsense.

-You've got loads in your car.

0:25:140:25:16

-Why were those tools in your car?

-I swore, I apologise.

-All right.

0:25:160:25:20

We've arrested them for going equipped for theft.

0:25:230:25:26

All three are being taken down to the police station and will be interviewed about the offence.

0:25:260:25:30

PC Swain's suspicions that these men were out to break into lorries

0:25:300:25:33

and steal property has been justified.

0:25:330:25:36

They are taken into custody and their tools have been seized.

0:25:380:25:41

We could have possibly prevented further offences being

0:25:410:25:45

committed tonight.

0:25:450:25:47

So it's a good stop, and it also lets them know that we are out there looking for them.

0:25:470:25:51

It is important that we do continue looking for these vehicles

0:25:510:25:55

and stop them when we see them.

0:25:550:25:57

In the other Operation Blade cases we saw earlier,

0:26:000:26:03

there are no suspects for the diesel theft.

0:26:030:26:05

In the attempted theft from the padlocked lorry,

0:26:060:26:09

one man pleaded guilty to vehicle interference.

0:26:090:26:12

The other three suspects received cautions for their parts

0:26:120:26:14

in the offence.

0:26:140:26:15

The three men arrested for suspected Operation Blade offences

0:26:180:26:21

had the going equipped for theft charge discontinued.

0:26:210:26:25

The driver was fined £130 and given three points for jumping

0:26:250:26:30

a red light.

0:26:300:26:32

No-one has yet been caught for the theft of the lorry

0:26:320:26:34

and instruments belonging to the Nexus Drum & Bugle Corps.

0:26:340:26:38

The instruments were recovered

0:26:380:26:40

and the band has now raised enough money to buy a brand-new lorry.

0:26:400:26:43

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:26:560:26:59

In this episode, an eagle-eyed witness comes to the rescue when a marching band has their van stolen - with all their instruments still inside; and police crack down on the night-time thieves who target lorries while their drivers are asleep in their cabs.


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