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).