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    Six New Year Resolutions For Crooks And Criminals

    Take the stairs rather than the lift, learn to cook like Mary Berry, and spend less time on social media. Just some of last year’s most popular New Year’s Resolutions forgotten just days into January by people seeking solace for a ‘bad bake’ whilst hitting the button for floor two. As the UK's second largest police force, West Midlands Police has seen its fair share of failing criminals and unruly louts. This compilation features several hapless individuals who failed - in some cases spectacularly - to pull off their criminal intentions. View the force's New Year Resolutions here... these ones might just keep you out of a police cell! In these instances, they fought the law and the law most definitely won!

    1. Never shine laser pens at helicopters

    View this video on YouTube

    Aiming a laser pen at a police helicopter is a spectacularly stupid thing to do.

    One of two things can happen: a) it could dazzle the pilot and cause them to lose control, potentially with disastrous consequences; or b) the crew will follow the line of the laser and direct ground troops in to arrest the offender.

    National Police Air Service (NPAS) regional manager Martin Knowles, said: “Laser beams travel in straight lines…that’s what they do. So all we have to do is follow the line and, hey presto, it leads straight to our offender.

    “The helicopter is equipped with lots of sophisticated equipment, including powerful cameras that can zoom right in on people from heights of 2,000-feet…and they are thermal imaging so there’s no hiding place in the dark.”

    Sandwell man Chris Vowles found that to his cost when shining a laser pen at the NPAS helicopter during a late night drinking session in Kitts Green on 31 July last year.

    On-board cameras homed in on Vowles laughing and toasting the laser attack with fellow drinkers – but their bravado was short lived when colleagues on the ground, directed from above, gate-crashed the party and arrested the 23-year-old.

    He was taken to court where he admitted “acting reckless in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft” and given a suspended jail sentence.

    Martin added: “It’s good that courts are taking these types of incidents seriously. Some of these pens pack powerful laser beams and can disorientate air crew or even cause eye damage. When the light bounces off the screen it’s like a disco-ball strobe effect in the cabin making it impossible to focus on the instrument panel.

    “It’s extremely dangerous as even a momentary loss of control can be crucial.”

    2. Don’t punch yourself in the face and pretend you’ve been robbed

    View this video on YouTube

    In scenes reminiscent of Fight Club, a Dudley man repeatedly punched himself in the face in a bid to trick officers into believing he’d been robbed.

    The 22-year-old planned to claim compensation for the £570 he reported losing at the hands of knife-point attackers…and intended to use the ordeal to delay rent payments to his landlord.

    Police station staff described him as appearing ‘groggy’ when he reported the bogus robbery on November 29 and tried to persuade him to seek hospital treatment. Initially it seemed his limited recollection of the theft was down to injuries he’d suffered…but it soon became clear a lack of imagination was the real cause!

    Officers became suspicious at contradictions in the man’s tale and quizzed him on the relatively superficial cuts he claimed were inflicted by a knife.

    Within three hours of walking into the station he admitted the injuries were self-inflicted and that he’d punched himself several times in the face shortly before approaching police staff.

    He left with a £90 fine for wasting police time!

    “False reports of this nature, or those made via the 999 system, deflect police resources and time away from people in genuine need of assistance or those who are reporting serious crimes,” said Detective Chief Inspector Phil Dolby.

    “There are charities and support groups who can help anyone with money troubles – inventing crimes in the hope of claiming compensation is not a sound financial move. We hope others learn from this pair’s mistake.”

    The video footage here shows another man who attempted to fool officers into believing he had been stabbed. As you can see, he had actually been trying - and failing - to jump over a stretch of canal in Tipton.

    Valuable police time is wasted investigating false reports of crime... so don't do it!

    3. Don’t give false details to police – and remember no-one can be born on 30 February!

    Lying to the police is never a sound move: you’re likely to be found out and either slapped with a fine or, worse, be jailed for trying to pervert the course of justice.

    Many West Midlands Police teams now use mobile fingerprint devices that tell officers if a person they’ve stopped is pretending to be someone else in order dodge arrest.

    But occasionally police don’t need to reach for such advanced technology. Like when a speeding cabbie tried palming off his points onto another driver…a mystery motorist with the date of birth 30 February 1969!

    Private hire driver Zafar Iqbal, from Hockley, triggered six speed cameras in Birmingham between October 2009 and July 2012.

    Rather than take the points and fines he decided to invent a fictitious cabbie to take the rap – but his ruse stalled when he inadvertently gave his phantom driver a 30 February birthday when filling out official forms.

    He was jailed for 10 months last year after admitting attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    PC Steve Jevons from West Midlands Police’s Camera Enforcement Unit, said: “It started out as a relatively low-level traffic offence but escalated into a serious matter because he refused to accept responsibility and tried to avoid legal proceedings.

    “The worst thing you can do is lie about what happened…it may seem like a little white lie, one you’ll get a slapped wrist for if caught, but attempting to pervert the course of justice can lead to a prison term."

    4. Avoid petty road rage episodes – you might not live to regret it

    View this video on YouTube

    There can be few motorists who haven’t yelled the odd expletive or shot a piercing glance in frustration at a fellow road user.

    Perhaps they cut you up, didn’t indicate at a roundabout, or were slow to move off at traffic lights – either way, they’re rubbish drivers! They are classic ‘count to 10’ moments because in next to no time it’ll be a distant memory.

    One such petty spat played out between a lorry driver and motorist as they jostled for lane position on the M5 last August.

    But rather than count to 10 the Citroen driver deemed the best way to teach the trucker a lesson was to slam his breaks on in front of the HGV.

    After all, what better way to get your own back than by forcing a 7.5-tonne lorry to smash into you at 60mph, a collision likely to send your car careering into the central reservation and maybe flipping into on-coming traffic?

    Not only was the driver putting his life on the line, but also that of his wife in the passenger seat and other road users who could have been caught in the ensuing carnage.

    The two vehicles avoided a collision by a matter of inches – as shown in chilling dash-cam footage from the truck – and the Citroen driver later admitted a count of dangerous driving after being shown the footage.

    He was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, handed a 12-month drive ban and left with a £145 bill for court costs; he must also re-take his driving test.

    5. Don’t burgle homes, especially when fitted with a GPS tag!

    View this video on YouTube

    Thieves who are prepared to break into someone’s home are taking a big risk.

    Standards of home security improve all the time, with switched-on residents marking their property and officers now using 'Capture House' technology such as that shown in this video, to catch offenders red handed.

    Many digital goods are now also fitted with tracking devices and if caught, offenders can expect a lengthy jail sentence.

    It’s particularly risky if the person in question has volunteered to wear a GPS tag that allows police to monitor their movements and pin-point their position to within a few metres!

    Sounds implausible…but that’s exactly what Birmingham man Aron Thompson did last year just days after being released from prison.

    Thompson, from Hay Mills, had been electronically tagged as part of a Ministry of Justice trial in the West Midlands offering offenders a tag instead of reporting conditions to police stations and night-time curfew checks.

    However, just five days later he kicked his way into a house in Yardley – making off with laptops and a 42-inch plasma TV – before going on to commit six more burglaries.

    The 26-year-old hadn’t banked on his GPS jewellery being so advanced that it could pinpoint his location to within 10 metres – and when detectives analysed tag data it placed him at the scene of each burglary and also led them to items he’d stashed.

    Thompson had little option but to admit seven counts of burglary and at Birmingham Crown Court and is now serving another long prison sentence.

    Burglary rates have fallen massively over the last decade and the downward trend is continuing: since April there have been 782 fewer break-ins across the West Midlands (down almost 10 per cent) compared to the same period 12 months ago.

    And, in-particular, people living in Walsall and Solihull are now much less likely to suffer at the hands of intruders with burglary rates down by around a fifth and a quarter in those areas respectively.

    6. Don’t dial 999 to query Big Mac ingredients

    Is eating a 508-calorie Big Mac a matter of life and death?

    A moot question, possibly, but surely no-one can argue that trying to settling a dispute over the burger’s ingredients warrants an emergency call to police.

    That’s what happened last June when a drunken diner at a McDonalds in Wolverhampton dialled 999 to moan about the contents of his take-away and report how his demands to know the precise ingredients were falling on deaf ears.

    “I want to know the ingredients in the burger” he told a West Midlands Police call handler before being asked whether he thought such a query fell into the 999 category of “life and death incidents” or crimes in progress.

    Force Contact Centre Manager Mark Powell, said: “We get calls on the 9s about lost property, people asking for directions and revellers who’ve been denied entry to nightclubs. Other ‘emergencies’ have included a blocked sink plug in a hotel room and someone who’d forgotten their computer password!

    “It’s astonishing listening to them but they hide a serious truth. Each call often takes minutes to deal with as staff must clarify the situation – it might not sound like much but, if someone is trying to get through to report a genuine life or death emergency, then a minute is a very long time to wait.

    “I cannot stress enough the 999 number is for emergencies only. This is defined as a crime in progress, if someone suspected of a crime is nearby, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened. To contact police for any other reason, call 101."

    Anyone who abuses the 999 line can face a fine for wasting police time.

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