On The Beat with Inspector Jim Tyner
It was a Tuesday lunch-time when the woman walked in to Holbeach Police Station and reported that her handbag had just been stolen.
The pensioner had been walking along Fleet Street with her handbag draped on one shoulder as she pulled her burgundy shopping trolley behind her. In a terrifying split-second, her handbag was snatched off her shoulder and the culprit had run off towards North Parade.
Officers immediately began a search for the suspect. Based on the description given and officers’ local knowledge, a local man very quickly became a suspect. After an hour of searching in the immediate vicinity, the Holbeach sergeant re-grouped her team and tasked each officer with individual specific enquiries.
The suspect was a 20-year-old man who was well known to police: indeed his most recent conviction had been for punching a police officer in the face.
The response officers were tasked with attending the suspect’s address.
Upon arrival, they met initial resistance from the occupants, but persevered and located the suspect hiding in an upstairs room. This was good swift work: but it would need more than this to get a conviction.
The suspect had had time to dispose of the stolen property and change his clothing.
Detectives took over the investigation. The suspect was interviewed and denied any involvement in the robbery.
A few days later, one of the Holbeach PCSOs was off duty when they received a phone call from a member of the public. The caller disclosed the location of the stolen handbag and provided further evidence incriminating the suspect. This information was passed to the investigation team and the handbag was recovered.
As part of the enquiry, a police officer then visited friends of the suspect. She was initially bombarded with attitude and discontent and had to spend over half an hour just calming them all down. However, perseverance paid off and eventually the friends provided statements and information linking the suspect to the robbery. This was tied in with CCTV evidence and the case was now coming together.
The man was later convicted of robbery and sentenced to two years in a Young Offenders Institution.
This was a team effort. The initial responding officers were supported by the Holbeach Neighbourhood Policing Team and The Sutton Neighbourhood Policing Team. A dog handler also carried out a search of the area. Detectives, Crime Scene Investigators and volunteer CCTV operators all played their part.
When I spoke to the victim she had nothing but praise for the work of all those involved. Holbeach has a brilliant team who work really well together. I was monitoring the police radio when this incident was reported and I heard the officers working together. Of course, we would have all much preferred that this robbery had never occurred in the first place. But once it had been reported to us, I could hear the steely determination in the voices of those officers. They were determined that the culprit would be found and brought to justice so that no one else would suffer the same crime.
Who solved the crime? The initial responding officers used their local knowledge and policing experience to great advantage. They arrested the suspect in challenging circumstances. The officer visiting the suspect’s friends a few days later gained vital evidence. She spent much time with them, getting them on side, and gaining their confidence to enable her to get the information required. She displayed resilience in difficult circumstances. The detectives interviewed the suspect and pulled together all the evidential pieces.
The Holbeach PCSO’s local knowledge and rapport with her residents was key to detecting this crime. Taking a phone call on her day off and then passing the information to the investigation team started a chain of events that led to this conviction. Solving a crime is sometimes like piecing together a jigsaw and all of the officers involved held important pieces of the puzzle.