23 December 2009

Funny calls to Crimestoppers: Osama bin Laden does some shopping at Tesco and more

I’d call myself a serious kind of guy. It’s fair to say that I rarely crack a smile when I’m suited and booted…or rather cloaking and, even though I say so myself, looking smoking. But when I read the latest funny calls received by Crimestoppers, I couldn’t help but laugh.

For example, our call handlers received a call from a prisoner complaining that his toilet roll had been stolen, and a woman suspicious of her bald neighbour using a hairdryer early in the morning. They also heard from a man who was certain he’d just seen Osama bin Laden leaving his local Tesco, and a caller who wanted to complain that a drug dealer had sold him tree bark instead if skunk.

Despite the hilarity, there is of course a very serious crime-fighting message too. Crime doesn’t take a break for Christmas and some crimes even increase over this period. The charity Crimestoppers is available to take information about crimes year-round, even on Christmas day.

Enjoy the funny stories crime-fighters, but don’t forget that you can be a superhero too. Just contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or fill out the secure online form on the charity’s website to pass on information about crime anonymously.

22 December 2009

What has the world come to when binge drinkers are called martyrs?

A police chief in China has claimed that one of his officers, who died after a drinking session with him at a banquet, is a martyr because he died in the line of duty.

Lo escandaloso – what a scandal! The police chief made the claim so that the man’s relatives would be eligible for more compensation. They would apparently be entitled to $95,000 if their dead relative was hailed a martyr.

It’s a sad fact that alcohol poisoning in China is not uncommon. What’s more, there have been several instances reported of similar deaths at other government-funded banquets. Nevertheless, I believe that it is entirely wrong for the authorities to call a man a martyr after dying in such circumstances, however sad or awful. Surely that is not only condoning drinking while on duty, but glamorising it as well?

I personally never drink while on duty, nor while riding my horse, Gonzo - and would urge others to follow my example. Apparently, there are 50 times more deaths every year from drinking in the UK than there are from illegal drugs. Drink-driving is also a particular problem at this time of year.

Por favor mi amigos – enjoy your sangria in moderation and take responsibility for your actions. And if you know someone who’s a drink-driver – contact Crimestoppers anonymously before they hurt themselves or someone else.

Feliz Navidad – Merry Christmas my friends and be safe.

It's snow joke

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that The Caped Crimestopper cracked a smile when he read the latest funny calls released by Crimestoppers. I think we could even go as far to say that the charity deserves a round of applause for forcing a giggle or two out of him!

Anyway, I’d have to agree with our Caped Crimestopper – those funny calls did make me chuckle. But not as much as the snow-related calls they told me about.

One caller rang to complain about the council not gritting the roads, while someone else rang to see if there was anything the charity could do about an offensive-looking snowman which had a carrot in a very rude place indeed. Not to mention the person who called to complain that Father Christmas himself had been spotted at a shopping centre, stinking of alcohol!

The last one is my favourite, however. A homeowner rang to tell Crimestoppers that his flashing Santa had been stolen and accused his neighbours of trying to sabotage his efforts in the street’s Christmas decoration competition.

Ha ha ha, or ho ho ho as he himself would say. Remember that Crimestoppers is available to take genuine calls about crime all over the Christmas period on 0800 555 111. For those of you who love to do a bit of 'online surfing' like me, the charity also has an online form that you can use to pass on information.

21 December 2009

Clink go the handcuffs on another Most Wanted hiding abroad

Did you hear the news that another British criminal wanted under Operation Captura was arrested abroad last week?

It’s simply marvellous! Although Mark Ronald Brown was wanted under Operation Captura – Crimestoppers’ campaign to find British criminals believed to be on the run in Spain – he was in fact arrested by Dutch police in the Netherlands. When he was arrested, he said that he felt unsafe in Spain knowing that he was wanted there, which is why he had moved to the Netherlands instead. Doesn’t that just show the super reach that Crimestoppers has gained with Operation Captura? The criminals know we are after them yet they are finding that there is still no place to hide.

I’m certainly glad that Brown was caught this side of Christmas. Not only is he responsible for the importation of class A drugs, but he is also believed to be the head of an organised crime gang who have imported hundreds of kilos of heroin into the UK.

That’s 28 Operation Captura criminals arrested and 22 to go. A mighty well done to the charity Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)! Make sure you have a look at those remaining wanted criminals – you might just be able to contribute the last piece of the jigsaw.

18 December 2009

Be sensible and fight crime this Christmas

I am so ashamed that I let Granny Robyn leave her Christmas shopping in the boot of my 'batmobile'. Being a crime-fighting superhero, I should have known that it really wasn’t best practice in the crime prevention world.

To be honest, it’s taken me a couple of days to get back to my usual self. But once I emerged from wallowing in my self-pity, I realised that I’m not the only one who gets distracted at Christmas-time. Of course, I should have known better, being in the business that I am. But let’s face it, how many of us haven’t made a schoolboy error, leaving us vulnerable to crime, at some stage in our lives?

They say that crime rises over Christmas and New Year and I must say that I’ve seen you lot let your guard down in recent days as Christmas gets nearer. What you should do is read the crime prevention advice available on the charity Crimestoppers’ website. There’s advice specific to the problems that arise at Christmas, home security advice and BBC’s ‘Beat the Burglar’ Michael Fraser even lets you into the mind of a would-be thief.

For those of you who love blogging and social networking like me, don’t post messages online saying that you are not at home. Otherwise you are advertising to burglars the best time to strike.

Take heed my fellow crime-fighters – be sensible and you’ll be fine this Christmas.

17 December 2009

Foreign criminals hiding in the UK - don't let them get away with it

Hombres! This is a big crime-fighting week for me. Since I heard on Monday that there are ten foreign wanted criminals hiding out in the UK – I have not dropped my cloak or mask, dedicated as I am to catching los delicuentes. But I just had to take five minutes out of my busy superhero schedule to blog to ask you all to help me. This is serious hombres!

These wanted men include Neculai Margineau, who allegedly punched and kicked a farmer to death in Romania. He has links to Mitcham and Enfield. Then there are Polish brothers Wojciech and Dariusz Glowacki. They are accused of three rapes and have links to Acton, west London, and Slough. Gintautas Rupslaukis is a Lithuanian man accused of being involved in a kidnapping and torture case. He may be in the Greater Manchester area. You can read more about and see photos of all the wanted men on Crimestoppers’ website.

These men should not be allowed to escape justice, mi amigos. Please – visit the charity Crimestoppers’ website right now to see if you can help. Sometimes the smallest details can lead to the arrest of a criminal. If you know anything, make sure you call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or fill out the secure online form on their website.

Buena suerte my friends – good luck!

14 December 2009

Beware of the pesky festive burglars

I don’t know about you lot, but I finished my Christmas shopping weeks ago and have it all hidden safely in my colleague’s Batmobile – an excellent hiding spot I’m sure you’d agree.

I was just about to make a start on my wrapping when I read that the charity Crimestoppers has launched a new campaign, warning those of us in fine festive fettle not to get too carried away. Apparently, domestic burglary tends to rise during the Christmas and New Year period.

I could not believe that those pesky burglars would go peeping through my windows to see if I had any Christmas presents sitting underneath my tree! Imagine the looks on the faces of my rosy cheeked children and grandchildren if they were to miss out on receiving their trusty annual presents of superhero memorabilia this year? (Yes that’s right - I pride myself on being a hip granny who gives more to my offspring than lavender soap).

I for one won’t be a victim of any burglar.

As well as donning my superhero costume, I shall be following the advice on Crimestoppers’ website. According to the charity, it’s best to either put presents under the tree early on Christmas morning or keep the tree out of view from the window. I’m telling you, as soon as I’ve finished this blog, I’ll be moving the Christmas tree myself. I shall also keep all my other valuables out of sight from the windows.

You can also tell Crimestoppers if you know someone who’s committing burglary. Just call them anonymously on 0800 555 111 or fill out the secure online form on their website.

After exploring Crimestoppers’ website even further, I also discovered that one should never leave Christmas gifts in the boot of their car while out shopping. Caped Crimestopper – you’d better bring my gifts over in a jiffy!

10 December 2009

When crime gets meaty

I read a story in today's paper about a woman in America who is facing domestic abuse charges for hitting her terminally ill partner with a piece of raw steak. The fight was reportedly sparked when Peter Schabhuttl said he would prefer to have a bread roll than a slice of bread with his dinner.

Once you get over the bizarreness of this story (it's not everyday you hear of someone being beaten with a steak), it serves as a reminder about domestic violence, especially over the festive season. Elsie Egan claimed that she hit her disabled partner several times with the meat to "teach him a lesson." When one person in a relationship is abusive to the other, be it a man or a woman, it is always wrong.

Domestic violence rises over the holiday season. Most families fight from time to time, but to include violence in rows is always wrong. Crimestoppers can take information from third parties about those who are violent towards their families. You can read more about this on the Crimestoppers website.

7 December 2009

Wanted woman hands herself in

I've got some great news for all of you who read my last post with interest. The woman wanted in connection with the assault on the bus driver has handed herself in following the appeal for information being made.

This is a truly excellent result. Thank you to everyone who passed on information about the appeal to their friends and family. You have all contributed to making our streets safer.

Happy crime-fighting

2 December 2009

Lady with pram attacks bus driver - £10k reward for information

On the whole I think of myself as being quite a calm and level-headed person. That said, there are some things that really make my blood boil. One of these is violence.

Crimestoppers and the bus company, Arriva, have put up a £10,000 reward for information on a serious assault. A lady with a pram attacked a bus driver in north London. The bus driver was pulled from the bus by her hair and had her arm broken and her shoulder dislocated during the incident, which occurred on 31 October 2008 in Haringey.

To launch an unprovoked attack like this on another is despicable, let alone in front of a child.

Information leading to the arrest and conviction of the woman responsible for the assault will qualify for a £10,000 reward. Information must be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to be eligible. All calls are anonymous and no personal details of the caller will be taken.
If you know anything about this horrific assault, please get in contact with Crimestoppers today.

1 December 2009

Italian police crash prized Lamborghini Gallardo

Like us Spaniards, the Italians are considered to be a stylish race. Their police force is no exception - since 2005 they have been using Lamborghinis to chase speeding criminals. I bet the officers driving those must love their job. That is, unless you're the officer who crashed one of two Gallardo super cars after being cut up by a motorist who was leaving a petrol station.

Lamborghini donated the two Gallardos to the Italian police last year. The cars' top speed is a whooping 204 mph and they contain special features including a small fridge to transfer human transplant organs. Now the fleet is down to one, although no one was seriously hurt in the accident, the car was, sadly, written off.

30 November 2009

Let your hair, not your guard, down this Christmas

The holiday season is supposed to be a happy time to spend with family and friends. Becoming a victim of crime is the last thing most people are thinking about while they're out at Christmas lunches and New Years Eve parties. That said, there are some crimes, including domestic violence, drink driving, robbery and rape, which become more common over the holidays.

The Association of Chief Police Officers launched a new campaign today reminding women of the steps they can take to keep themselves safe. These include:
  • Let your hair down, not your guard down
  • no consent means no sex
  • take a taxi you can trust.

TV ads set in a bar will be reminding men that rape is a short word, but a long sentence.

Sexual assault is a horrific crime that is never deserved. When out with your friends, look out for each others safety. You can read crime prevention advice for women on the Crimestoppers website.

Cross-dressing to catch criminals

The Japanese have come up with some truly ingenious ways to fight crime. First there was the Japanese designer who made a skirt that could be transformed into a vending machine costume, allowing women to hide from pursuers, now police have started cross-dressing to catch criminals.

In the central Aichi prefecture, all-male police squads have been taking to the streets wearing wigs, skirts and high heels while carrying designer handbags. They are attempting to catch criminals who have been mugging well-dressed women.

Entry into the squads is elite - officers must be male, young, slim and hold a black belt in karate. Although I don't hold a black belt in karate (that's more of Granny Robyn's cup of tea), I'm confident I'd still be accepted into the squad as I excel against the other qualification criteria.

The Asahi daily reported that although some of the officers have been propositioned while walking the beat, no muggers have been arrested so far.

Can you think of any other creative ways to tackle crime? Get in touch and let me know.

25 November 2009

Just because you like Twilight, doesn't make you a vampire

Now that Jedward have left the X-Factor, there is another debate involving an Edward on everyone's lips: have you seen the Twilight film New Moon yet and if so, are you team Jacob or team Edward?

Not having a preference between vampires or werewolves, I'm finding it difficult to choose...

One man in America certainly demonstrated his preference in a bizarre, scary (and illegal) way this week.

A 17-year-old girl was watching New Moon with a friend in a Miami cinema when a man sitting in the row ahead started making inappropriate comments at them. As the girls left the cinema following the film, the man approached them and bit one on the neck. The bite luckily didn't piece the skin but (understandably) shook the victim up.

Every now and again articles come up in the media about pop culture inspiring people to commit crimes. Often discussions focus on whether violent computer games, films and song lyrics have resulted in society becoming more violent. Hopefully nothing like this happens again and the Twilight films can stay as they’re intended to be – as fiction.

24 November 2009

A bank robber stole my homework

There's been a fair few stories written on the I spy a crime blog lately about burglars and robberies that have been carried out by some very clumsy crooks. Here's another for you, this time about an alleged American bank robber who tried to dispose of evidence in a very a dog ate my homework kind of way.

John Ford was caught on police video chewing a piece of paper while he was handcuffed and in police custody. It is alleged he grabbed the paper in his mouth as police emptied his pockets. Police believe the piece of paper was the note he had just used to hold up a bank. I don't think destroying the note would have ruined the police's case against Ford - his car was found nearby containing a bag full of money and a bank dye pack that had recently exploded.

Bank robbery is a crime that I think is often misunderstood - it doesn't only damage the banks, it also affects people who work in banks and the communities banks are in. Crimestoppers has appealed for information about bank robberies in Greater Manchester previously. There is even a £100,000 reward available for information about bank robberies in the Greater Manchester region. Information must lead to an arrest and conviction to be eligible.

Maybe instead of robbing banks, would-be criminals would be better off keeping their ear to the ground and passing on information about other bank robbers!

23 November 2009

Crimestoppers: fighting crime in your community

Have you ever wondered how Crimestoppers works or what successes we have had? Northern Ireland Crimestoppers has made a film about the charity and some cases we have helped solve.

Make sure you watch it to learn more about the charity and how it is helping local communities all over the UK.

19 November 2009

Want-to-be thief gets stuck in window with his trousers down

When I first watched the video below, two phrases sprung to mind. The first was crime doesn't pay and the second was don't get caught with your trousers down. I bet the man in the video is starting to agree with at least the second one!

The bare-legged man was trying to gain entry to a supermarket by climbing through a basement window when he got stuck halfway. His trousers fell down leaving his pants revealed to onlookers for 11 hours. Police suspect he was trying to break-in to the supermarket at the time and once released, took him to the station for questioning.

17 November 2009

Jingle bells, jingle bells, win a Nintendo DS Lite

I was at London's Oxford Circus last weekend when I had a sudden "Oh wow, Christmas is getting close" realisation. The streets were decorated with bright A Christmas Carole themed lights and shop windows displayed banners telling me that my partner would love a new blender/jumper/iPod for Christmas.

If you are eyeing off mince pies and turkey in the supermarket and are generally feeling festive, why not channel that into entering Crimestoppers' 2010 Christmas Card Competition? The competition is open to those aged from 5 to 21 and entries must be received by the charity before 8 January 2010. If you're over 21, why not encourage a young person you know to get involved? There are great prizes to be won including a Nintendo DS Lite, £200 worth of shopping vouchers and an iPod Touch.

Children aged 5 to 10 are asked to design a card that combines a Christmas message with a warning about the rise of burglary at Christmas. 11 to 16 year-olds should design a card featuring a Christmas message with a warning about the risks of drink-driving at Christmas. 17 to 21 year-olds are encouraged to combine a Christmas message with a warning about the rise of domestic violence at Christmas.

One winning design will be chosen from each age group. This design will then be turned into a 2010 Christmas card! You can get more information about the competition on the Crimestoppers website.

Get designing and good luck!

13 November 2009

Let's Stamp out distraction burglary

Now I don't know about you, but I've been a fan of The Bill since it first aired in August 1983. The dishy characters combined with riveting story lines make it must-watch TV. That's why when I heard the Home Office's new distraction burglary campaign was being fronted by Graham Cole (fellow Bill fans might know him better as PC Tony Stamp), I sat up and paid attention.

Distraction burglary is when someone gains access to your home by false pretences, such as claiming to be from a utility company, to steal your belongings. The Home Office reports that older people and students are most at risk of it.

When someone I don’t know knocks on my front door, I always check their ID before even thinking about letting them enter my house. Always call the company the visitor claims to be from to clarify who they are. I’ve done this many times and genuine callers don’t mind waiting. If you would like more information about protecting yourself from distraction burglary, check out the Crimestoppers website. Also, the Home Office has put together free Secure your home packs as part of their campaign.

You can never be too careful with your health and the safety of your home so learn how to protect yours today.

I'll leave you with the wise words of Graham Cole, my man of the hour: "Anytime someone knocks on your door, if in doubt keep them out.”

12 November 2009

Facebook status used as alibi

It seems to me that the courts are increasingly acknowledging the role social networking plays in modern life. 

There have been a few cases recently in which status updates or photos posted on social networking sites have been used as evidence in criminal trials. Judges have also placed restrictions on criminals using social networking sites as part of sentencing; in August, members of the Manchester-based Fallowfield Mad Dogs were forbidden from uploading photos of themselves with other gang members to MySpace.

Now, possibly for the first time, a man has used a Facebook status update as an alibi. Rodney Bradford was arrested as a suspect in a gun-point mugging in New York. The charges were dropped after it was revealed that Rodney's Facebook profile had been updated with the status "Where's my pancakes" at the time the mugging occurred.  Facebook verified the address from which Rodney's page had been updated.

I'll be watching the papers closely to see if people using their online activities as proof of their offline movements becomes an increasing trend. Have you heard of any cases like this? Be sure to get in touch and let me know.

11 November 2009

Crime-fighting at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics

As much as I love the UK, one of the main things I miss about Spain is the mild weather. I woke up today to frost on my lawn for the first time this season - winter is upon us and, as a man of the sun, I'm not a fan.

The only decent thing about winter is snow sports. I'm a boarder through and through. My goatee tends to get a little frosty doing it though.

In my mind, the highlight of this winter is bound to be the Winter Olympics, being held in Vancouver this February. Global events like these provide different challenges to security and law enforcement agencies.

The charity Crimestoppers have appealed for the public to pass on information anonymously about crimes that may negatively impact the Games. Information passed to Crimestoppers about the Winter Olympics is passed on to Canadian Crime Stoppers to help the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, which is in charge of security, to enable the Games to be played in a safe and secure environment.

Help protect the Winter Olympics and Paralympics – arguably the best thing about the chilly season – by spreading the word about this campaign.

10 November 2009

Man drives to court to face auto-theft charges in a stolen car

Following on from Mask of Manuel's post on Friday about a student who was caught drink-driving while dressed as a breathalyser, it been revealed that a man in California stole a car to drive to his court hearing for auto-theft charges.

Samuel Botchvaroff was arrested by police sitting outside Vallejo courthouse in a stolen Range Rover. He told police officers that he had steal the car as his own car had been impounded and he had no other way of attending the court hearing. Police didn't take sympathy on Botchvaroff and arrested him on auto-theft charges... again.

Fingers crossed he learns his lesson and takes public transport to his next hearing!

9 November 2009

Myth busters: Crimestoppers isn't Crimewatch

When I tell people I blog for Crimestoppers, some of the most common conversations that follow are along the lines of...

"Do you ever get to appear on TV?"
"You know, on TV - have you ever been on it?"
"No... Well, I think as a child I used to climb on our black and white one from time to time... But I haven't been on it in a Barbara Windsor kind of way. Why?"
"I just thought you might have; blogging for the TV show Crimestoppers and all."
"Well, blogging tends to be more of an Internet thing and Crimestoppers isn't a TV show, it's an independent charity."
"But Crimestoppers is a TV show too, right? I've seen it on BBC1 before."
"No, that's Crimewatch. Crimestoppers is completely separate from Crimewatch. We run the 0800 555 111 number through which people can anonymous pass on information about crime. Crimewatch is a TV show that shows reconstructions of unsolved crimes."
"Oh.. so I don't suppose you know Kirsty Young then?"
"Well no, she's the host of Crimewatch."

While I am a big fan of Crimewatch, it does frustrate me when people confuse it with Crimestoppers. We perform important but very different functions. As a result of information passed to Crimestoppers, 19 people are arrested and charged everyday and every four days someone is arrested for murder.

Next time you’re watching Crimewatch (it’s on this Thursday 12 November), mention to anyone you’re with that it is separate from Crimestoppers and hopefully the word will start to spread.

6 November 2009

A Halloween costume I won't be trying

I always find the week after Halloween a little sad, as it means it will be another year before the next one comes around. I love thinking up witty and original costumes and love spotting costume trends. Now that Halloween has passed, the only costume trend I'll be seeing is Santa suits and they're not my style.

This week I read an article in the paper about a man who took his quest to find an original Halloween costume too far...

James Miller, a student from Ohio, USA, went out for Halloween dressed up as a breathalyser. While wearing his costume James proceeded to drink and then drive home the wrong way down a one way street. Police stopped and used a real breathalyser on James to discover he was well over the limit. Looking at a photo of James, you can see that he was definitely in no state to be driving a car.

It's lucky the police caught James before he had an accident - drink driving is a crime for good reason, it is dangerous and irresponsible.

In the six months to September, Crimestoppers received nearly 3,000 calls about drink drivers.
Rates of drink-driving tend to go up in the months leading up to Christmas. This festive season make sure you not only watch your alcohol consumption if you are driving, but also be aware that there might be dangerous drivers on the road.

4 November 2009

London mayor saves woman from street attack

As a superhero I'm always one to notice good deeds done by others, especially when they involve keeping the community safe. Today I'm sending a virtual high-five to Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, for helping protect a local resident.

Franny Armstrong, documentary maker and environmental activist, was being hassled by a group of young girls wielding an iron bar in Camden, north London on Monday night. She called to a passing cyclist, who turned out to be Mr Johnson, for help. Mr Johnson chased the girls away on his bike and returned to walk Ms Armstrong home.

Ms Armstrong said she didn't notice the girls approaching because she was busy texting.

Even those who know their local streets inside out can get into trouble if they're not savvy of their surroundings. I'm a tough guy but I still follow general safety practices like walking with my head up and swinging my arms - looking and acting confident can help you stay safe.

Andrew Greenslade, a former long-service police detective, special branch officer, and crime investigation skills trainer, has written an article of practical personal safety tips for Crimestoppers. Have a read of Be safe and stay safe and learn how to keep yourself safe. After all, if you get into trouble you might not be lucky enough to have Mr Johnson cycling down your street at the same time!

3 November 2009

Help find Madeleine McCann

When children go missing it is always incredibly sad and stunning for everybody around them. The disappearance of Madeleine McCann was no exception; people worldwide were shocked at how easily a little girl could disappear from her bed.

More than two years on from Madeleine’s disappearance, her family are still searching for her. The UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre released a video today reminding people of Maddie and prompting those who know something about her whereabouts to contact police.

Watch the video below and share this link with your friends and family. Please note that Crimestoppers cannot take information on Madeleine’s disappearance. If you wish to pass on information about her, please contact your local police force.

2 November 2009

Who said burglars need masks?

Here at I spy a crime, we love the motto is Fight crime without revealing your identity. A story I read online today stood out at me because the crooks involved did the exact opposite - commited a crime while leaving no doubt about who they were!

Matthew Allan McNelly, 23, and Joey Lee Miller, 20, can only be described as dumb and dumber after 'disguising' their faces using permanent marker while attempting to break into a house in Iowa, USA.

It was reported that they had been drinking before they decided to break into the property, where one of the men believed his ex-girlfriend was staying. Neighbours reported seeing men with painted faces drive away in a white car from the scene.

Police located the vehicle with McNelly and Miller still inside. Both men were charged with attempted burglary, and McNelly was charged additionally with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Check out a photo of these men if you haven't already; theirs has to be one of the most bizarre disguises I’ve seen in my crime-fighting days!

29 October 2009

Love football, hate football violence

Help put a stop to it now

The Spaniards are a passionate race. We love good food, good wine and of course, good football. I love Barcelona and, like all football fans with good taste, was ecstatic with their Champions League win last year. The moment we toppled Man U in last year's final was amazing, words can't describe how ecstatic I was.

While I think the game of football is phenomenal, I don't like the violence that is sometimes associated with it. The majority of fans go to games to watch and enjoy them. A minority go to fight and cause trouble.

The West Ham v Millwall Carling Cup match on Tuesday 25 August at Upton Park was particularly rough. A 44-year-old male Millwall fan was stabbed in the chest outside the ground during large-scale trouble. Fathers were running from the scene with their kids and local shops shut to try and avoid getting caught up in the trouble.

If you're like me and love football, but hate football violence, now's your chance to help put a stop to it. Crimestoppers has published images of 66 people wanted in connection with violence at the West Ham v Millwall match. The charity is now appealing to the public to help identify them.

Why not have a look and see if you know any of them? By helping identify football hooligans you'll be helping send a message that most fans don't like, and won't tolerate, violence getting in the way of our sport.

Look at images of the wanted football hooligans.

28 October 2009

Beware of the dog? Burglars don't think so

While Mask of Manuel's post about the woman that pretended to be a dog was funny, I still won't be putting a Beware of the dog sign by my front door. Ex-burglar Michael Fraser (of BBC's 'To Catch a Thief' and 'Beat the Burglar', as well as Channel 4's 'One Last Job') wrote a fascinating piece for Crimestoppers on deterring burglars and one of his tips is not hanging a Beware of the dog or I love cats sign by your door.

Michael argues that most pet owners don't have house alarms and some leave back doors open for their animals, so a sign like this could be attracting criminals as opposed to deterring them. You can read more of Michael's great tips in his article Adopt a burglars way of thinking on the Crimestoppers website.

Woman scares off burglar by acting like dog

I live in a fairly safe neighbourhood, but some people still use extra safety messages such as hanging up Beware of the dog signs by their doors. I've often wondered whether signs like these are actually effective at deterring criminals.

An article in the Athens-Banner Herald suggests that having a dog at your house, or at least pretending you do, might deter some would-be crims.

Over the weekend a lady in Georgia, USA, scared off a potential burglar by pretending to be a large dog. The woman saw through her window a man attempting to open her front door. The woman dropped to all fours by the door and imitated a dog. Exactly which dog-like characteristics she adopted has not been specified, but she must have been realistic as the man ran away.

27 October 2009

Crime costumes and big decisions

It's Halloween this Saturday and I'm trying to think of a costume to wear. My superhero outfit is usually suitable for every occasion, but I feel like trying something different this year. Being passionate about crime-fighting, I want to stick to a crime-inspired costume.

I'm quite lucky - being a good looking guy means that I can pull off most costumes easily. When it comes time for Mask of Manuel to choose his costume, I can't image he'll have as many suitable options as me.

My first choice of costume was made by a Japanese designer who wanted to come up with an outfit that would allow wearers to avoid crime. It's got to be the ultimate disguise - a skirt that transforms into a life-size vending machine. I love the idea that crime has inspired such an ingenious and amazing costume. My only worry is how my legs will look in the red skirt and whether I can source one from Japan in time for Halloween.

I was also thinking of going out as Jack the Ripper. This time, my worry is that too much of my lovely legs will be covered up. I also am unsure about dressing as a criminal as I'm so passionate about catching them.

My third and final choice is dressing as the classic crime-solver Sherlock Holmes. The hat is a little old fashioned though and I consider myself a modern kind of guy...

Are you planning on dressing up for Halloween? If you are, would you consider a crime-inspired costume? I'm keen to hear which of my costume ideas is your favourite so be sure to let me know.

Happy crime-fighting

26 October 2009

Where do you keep your ID?

I've been in the crime-fighting industry for a few years now, since well before tv or mobile phones were around. In my opinion, the introduction of the internet has changed crime-fighting immensely. The internet helps fight crimes, for example by allowing organisations such as the charity Crimestoppers to publish images of Most Wanted individuals, but it has also made others more common.

There's new research out today finding that in three quarters of burglaries, some form of identification is amongst what is stolen. In one in seven burglaries, ID is the only thing stolen.

Now I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want other people getting their hands on my passport or drivers license. The idea of someone else traveling or opening up bank accounts in my name makes me feel pretty sick. If my passport is going abroad, I certainly want to be going with it!

To reduce the value of your ID if it is stolen, make sure you report all stolen or lost documents as missing straight away. Insurance company LV suggests you store documents in secure but separate places in your home so if someone finds one document, they won't have them all. Check out the Crimestoppers website for some great tips that can help you prevent becoming a victim of identity theft.
Stay safe.

22 October 2009

How to get arrested: Report your own drugs as stolen to the police

From April to September this year Crimestoppers received 25,517 pieces of useful information about drugs offences from across the UK. This information led to 2,421 drugs cases being solved. That said, sometimes law enforcement don't need our help to solve crimes - the criminals do it for us!

A 54 year-old lady from Brant Township in Michigan, USA called police to tell them that her marijuana plants had be stolen. Officers responded to the call and arrested the woman on drugs manufacturing charges.

Detective Sgt. Randy F. Pfau, who worked on the case, said that it was the first time he can remember someone reporting their stolen drugs to the police.

21 October 2009

Leech solves serious crime!

Being Spanish, I visit the beautiful Tagus River whenever I get a chance. One of the only downsides about the region is the leeches. Except when they're being used for medical purposes, I find leeches annoying and hard to remove.

Today my respect for the humble leech increased a little after reading about one in the Metro that solved a crime.

The case in question sounded so tough that even I don't know if I could have solved it - an elderly lady in Tasmania, Australia was tied up in her home by two intruders in September 2001. The men stole the lady's money and fled.

Police were obviously keen to catch the culprits, but there was no forensic evidence left at the scene - except for one blood-filled leech! Suspecting the leech might have fed on one of the attackers, the police removed the blood from it for DNA analysis.

Now, over eight years later, Peter Cannon was arrested on unrelated charges. His DNA matched that taken from the leech.

Cannon pleaded guilty to the robbery and is being sentenced this Friday. He faces a maximum sentence of 21 years.

This is the first time DNA taken from an insect has been used to solve a crime in Australia and perhaps the world! Bravo - I love a happy ending.

Pretty amazing story eh? I hope the next leech I encounter is as useful. If you hear of any amazing crime stories, be sure to let my fellow amigos and I know.

19 October 2009

When mistaken identity becomes a crime

As the oldest member of the I spy a crime team, I was most understanding about this lady's mistake. Still, there's a lesson to be learnt here - guns are dangerous and there is a good reason why they are largely illegal in the UK!

16 October 2009

Increase your fitness while fighting crime - two for the price of one!

People sometimes assume that the reason I’m so strong and toned is because I’m a superhero. I’m constantly telling them that I have always been fit, even before my crime-fighting days begun. I know a good sports person when I see one.

Last weekend I was really impressed with the fitness and dedication of five talented individuals who ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon on behalf of Crimestoppers. The race was a whopping 13.1 miles long and winds through a series of London’s great parks. Congratulations and thank you to our runners for the hard work they put into the event! I’ve awarded you all superhero stripes for your efforts.

Get more information on running the marathon with Crimestoppers on the Crimestoppers website or contact the lovely Emma. Remember to tell her that the Caped Crimestopper sent you!

12 October 2009

Funny Monday

Did you know that 19 criminals are arrested and charged every day as a result of information passed on to Crimestoppers?

Amongst all the incredibly useful calls we get, there are a few bizarre ones too. Here are a few of the funny ones to brighten your Monday.
  • We heard from an anxious caller who told us about a man who was driving with two broken arms and a damaged leg (and that was before he hit anybody!)

  • We were told by what sounded like a completely sane and plausible male caller that he had just seen Osama Bin Laden leaving Tescos

  • We also had a woman call in complaining that while angry her husband had sabotaged the central heating boiler.

Enjoy the start to your week and remember that everyone has the power to be a superhero with Crimestoppers - fight crime without revealing your identity by filling out our anonymous online form.

9 October 2009

Two most wanted Costa crooks captured - Bravo!

I’ve got some great news for those of you who read my last post on criminals hiding in Spain with interest – this week two more crooks wanted under Operation Captura were arrested within 24 hours. Bravo bravo!

Being Spanish, I of all people understand the allure of the sun and sand. I hope the remaining Most Wanted aren’t too attached to it though, as they can run, but as these arrests prove, they can’t hide forever..

Ronald Priestley was arrested in Malaga. Holy name but he certainly is no saint – Priestly, originally from Leeds, skipped bail while awaiting trial for currency counterfeiting to the sum of £4.25 million. Sentenced to eight years in prison in his absence, he’s finally going to do the time for the crime.

Also arrested was Stephen Burnell, of Scunthorpe. Burnell was found in Crete and detained in connection with child sex offences.

That’s 26 down, 24 to go!

More than half of all those wanted under Operation Captura have now been caught. I bet the 24 remaining men are getting worried. They should be getting ready to rent out their villas and stop drinking sangria, because it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be found and brought back to the UK to face justice.

7 October 2009

Rewards and good old-fashioned crime-fighting

I must admit that the idea for the new website called Internet Eyes, that The Caped Crimestopper blogged so passionately about yesterday, left me feeling a little bit disturbed too.

I’m all for a good spot of community spirit and getting criminals out of our neighbourhoods, but the idea of signing-up to a website, having CCTV ‘streamed’ onto your computer and clicking to report suspected crimes sounds like a bit of a kerfuffle to me. Not to mention being unethical, tedious and bad for your eyes… I don’t know about you but my eyesight is not what it used to be. And it’s not just this blinking mask I have to wear either.

The idea of ‘winning’ £1,000 makes crime-fighting seem like a game, which it certainly is not. However, receiving money for solving crimes is not a new idea. The charity Crimestoppers pays cash rewards of up to £1,000 if the information someone gives to them leads to a criminal being arrested and charged.

Some people do want and need the reward money for passing on information about crime and in my opinion, that’s absolutely fine. If that’s what it takes to get criminals off our streets, then rewards should jolly well be paid out. But whereas Internet Eyes pays £1,000 for playing crime as a game and doesn’t even guarantee that criminals may not even be taken off the streets, Crimestoppers only pays cash rewards if criminals are arrested and charged.

What’s more, Crimestoppers have found that most people aren’t even motivated by money when they pass on information about crime. Only 2% of people who give information to the charity actually claim a reward. Now that’s what I call the genuine crime-fighting spirit!

6 October 2009

Internet Eyes: When ‘I spy’ goes too far

I could not believe my bat-eyes when I saw a scheme in the news today appealing for people to play an online crime game, under the pretence of fighting crime.

‘Internet Eyes’ streams CCTV footage to anyone who signs up to the website and encourages them to spot and report crimes. These internet spies can receive a £1,000 prize for the part they play in reporting the so-called crimes they see.

Turning crime into a game? I am shocked. Fighting crime is not a game and the Internet Eyes website undermines the work others do, such as myself, to take criminals out of communities.

We will not save our communities from crime by sitting glued to our computer screens, waiting for a crime to take place. Or potentially accusing innocent members of the public from looking ‘suspicious’ and committing crimes they have not.

I for one will not be sitting at my computer, watching hours of CCTV footage, reporting incidents that may or may not be crimes taking place. With a dramatic swish of my cape I will turn my back on such a scheme and will instead encourage others to follow my example. Fight crime without revealing your identity. Online crime games are not for superheroes like us.

2 October 2009

British criminals are on the run in my homeland

I do not understand how those imbeciles, El Caped Crimestopper and Señora Robyn can be talking about such frivolous things as “men in tights”, when there are British criminals on the run. IN MY NATIVE LAND.

Am I the only one who has seen these latest Operation Captura Most Wanted appeals? Pictures of those criminals have been in newspapers all over the world. Todo el mundo! They include some of the UK’s most dangerous child sex offenders, robbers and drug traffickers.

One of them, a Señor Michael Eddleston, has already handed himself over to the authorities in Mallorca. I am sure he could not bear to see his wanted face all over the media. I know for certain that I could not.

There are nine more criminals left on the latest Operation Captura list, running like cowards from justice. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) say they are in the Malaga region. All I know is that if they are hiding away in my beautiful country, they must be found.

We must stop these criminals from getting away with their easy lives in the sun. I urge my fellow countrymen and British ex-patriots to pass on information anonymously to Crimestoppers about these fugitives.

Viva España!

Misinformed callers – It’s not their fault!

I think our Caped Crimestopper was on a bit of a rant in his post ‘Confused superheroes’. As superheroes, it’s part of our job to set people straight if they’re not sure in which circumstances they should call the charity.

Anyone can call Crimestoppers anonymously to pass on information about crime or criminal activity they know about. Or they can fill out a secure online form.

There are of course, a number of situations in which Crimestoppers is not the appropriate number to call. Crimestoppers’ 0800 555 111 number should not be dialled in an emergency, because the charity’s not an emergency service. For complaints about anti-social behaviour or fly-tipping for example, people should contact their local council or police.

Naturally, The Caped Crimestopper is correct that Crimestoppers is also not the number to call for those who wish to inform the charity they are wearing tights and other such attire.

But that’s not to say it isn’t funny when we do get those funny, outrageous or plain bizarre calls!

Just the other day our call centre got a call from a drug user, who said that Crimestoppers was his last resort. When asked why that was the case, he replied in all earnestness, like a child asking his parents for pocket money: “Please can you lend me the money to pay of my drug debt?”

Confused superheroes

Now I don’t mind members of the public wanting to play the part of a superhero. Of course, being a superhero myself for the charity Crimestoppers, I would actively encourage people to play their part in the fight against crime. But when people phone our call centre to tell us about their pretence at being a superhero, I must admit it makes my blood boil.

Let me clarify.

There is a man who calls Crimestoppers’ call centre on a regular basis, claiming to be Spiderman.

Furthermore, almost everyone at the call centre has spoken to an individual, who only calls at night, to tell them that he is wearing tights.

A Robin Hood wannabe and a phony Spiderman. Two men in tights and no substance to their claims.

Anyone could be a Crimestoppers superhero - fighting crime without revealing their identity. But they should call the charity to pass on information about crime and criminals in their communities, not to tell us that they are dressed as superheroes (and second rate ones at that).