How was this brazen thief eventually caught?

The elite squad that caught this outrageous thief

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CCTV: Serial thief jailed after snatching more than £100,000 of goods

Austin Caballero, a 42-year-old thief of no fixed address, had spent two and a half years as the scourge of London high-end stores - stealing £100,000 of luxury items in a number of brazen thefts. He was apparently under the impression that he would never be caught. However, he didn't count on the Metropolitan Police Super-Recogniser Unit.

As this video shows, he took a casual style to theft, taking expensive items from under the noses of serving staff, and waiting until their backs were turned before stuffing cashmere scarves down his trousers, or pocketing pricey bracelets.

He was filmed by CCTV in many cases, but he wasn't caught until he was picked up by the super recogniser - who have specific skills in identifying individuals from CCTV footage.

He admitted almost 40 counts of theft and was jailed for more than four years.

The squad

The super-recognisers are an elite squad that have drawn attention from forces around the world. The squad is made up of people who literally never forget a face. They can scan grainy and blurred CCTV footage and recognise faces they saw years ago in mugshots or who they have arrested in the past.

It's a highly unusual skill, and only around 1% of the population has it. One of the early signs you have the skill is that you say hello to people, who don't seem to recognise you. It's only when you think about it that you realise these people are acquaintances you met years ago - and then perhaps only briefly.

The force didn't test people in order to identify super-identifiers, as the squad was drawn from officers who had already demonstrated incredible ability to identify people from CCTV footage.

They have since been tested by psychologists at the University of Greenwich - who found they were particularly adept at recognising faces and remembering the faces of people they had not seen before (and spotting them later). Further research found they were also adept at identifying when they had not seen a face before.

However, the police are keen to point out that super-recognisers can only identify faces that they are familiar with - so it's essential for members of the public to check out any photos or CCTV footage they release too, in order to catch the crooks who slip through the net.

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