A sharp-eyed neighbour helped South Wales Police convict two burglars - by taking a picture of one of their shoe soles. Stuart Edey and Jason Sultana stole £200k of goods in 100 separate offences in the Bridgend area.
But South Wales Police compared a photograph snapped by a neighbour of one of the pair's feet with a shoe found in Sultana's house. Result? A combined 7-year prison sentence for the two.
Soul mates to cell matesThe pair - Edey, 33 and Sultana, 32 - were discreetly snapped by a local resident as the two staked out a house in a village close to Cardiff, Llantwit Fardre. The Cardiff, Neath and Bridgend areas had been targeted by the pair for several months.
Police detectives were then able to line up other CCTV images of the men taken at a local supermarket.
"The high quality of the pictures taken by the resident," a police spokesperson told the Mirror, "enabled officers to make an exact match between trainers found in Sultana's house and those he is wearing in the photograph, using the pattern on the sole.
Stone throwingHow did the two break into people's homes? By throwing stones through front people's windows to check if residents were in or not. They also nipped through gardens that backed onto fields to force open doors and windows, before making off with as much stolen kit as they could.
Edey - originally he claimed only to be the getaway driver - admitted to eight offences in total and was given four and a half years. Sultana was given two years and four months.
Fight backDetective Chief Inspector Andy Valentine said in a South Wales Police release: "I can't praise the photographer enough. He took responsibility and acted on his instincts to report suspicious behaviour, which is what we asked people to do at the time when the burglaries were being reported."
With police resources under huge pressure from government cuts, public support is increasingly helpeful. For example, reporting crime can be done via a recently introduced free app called Self Evident. It lets the public photograph, make an audio recording, or take a short video, detailing crime instantly.
Developed by a London charity called Witness Confident, its director Guy Dehn says the public are now crucial in helping police convict crims. "Everyone knows that the police cannot reduce crime without the help of the public. What this app does enables victims and witnesses to engage in a hassle-free way with the police."