Saturday, 2 April 2016

A serial thief is brought to justice by a specialist unit of eagle-eyed officers trained to recognise individuals in CCTV footage.
13:49, UK,Saturday 02 April 2016
Austin Caballero stealing two bracelets from a west London jeweller valued at £8,500
A prolific shoplifter who stole more than £100,000 worth of luxury goods from upmarket stores across London has been jailed after being identified by a police super spotter.
Austin Caballero, 42, went uncaught for more than two-and-a-half years, until his crime spree was brought to an end by the Met's Super Recogniser Unit.
Between 30 April, 2013 and 22 December, 2015 he swiped luxury goods from shops in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden.
His haul included jewellery, designer clothes, handbags, high-end cosmetics and antiques.
CCTV released by police revealed the extent to which the opportunist would go.
In one clip Caballero was caught grabbing a £9,500 bronze statue before sliding it into his jacket.
He was also shown taking a £580 bottle of beauty cream when staff turned their backs.
In another clip he could be seen stuffing three cashmere scarves worth £1,200 into his trousers before resuming his act of an innocent browser.
Then on a separate occasion he waited for a jeweller to turn her back before swiftly pocketing two bracelets worth £8,500.
After appearing on camera several times he was eventually identified by one of the Met's eagle-eyed super recognisers - officers with a heightened ability to recognise individuals in CCTV footage.
Investigators launched a public appeal last August to find the thief and he was arrested on New Year's Day.
Detective Sergeant Eliot Porritt, of the Super Recogniser Unit, said: "Caballero has been brazen during his relentless spree of offences.
CCTV image of a man wielding a knife
"Given the time period and frequency of offences, I have no doubt that he was under the illusion that he would never be captured.
"My unit scans thousands of images in order to link offenders to their crimes, resulting in a greatly reduced cost to the public of just one court process as opposed to the dozens of separate cases that could have resulted had he not been recognised and linked by my team."
By the time he was arrested the specialist officers had linked Caballero to 41 offences with CCTV footage and evidence.
They included 40 thefts and one count of racially aggravated assault.
He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for the theft offences and an additional three months for the assault.
After failing to attend court over the thefts he was sentenced to a further nine months in prison, although a judge ruled it could be served concurrently.