Burglars right out of luck

SASHA BORISSENKO AND TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:00 25/01/2014

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A couple's night out stealing was thwarted by another couple's night out testing specialist night vision equipment, when they caught the whole thing on camera.

The man and a woman breaking into the Hope Tennis Club this week were caught red-handed by a couple using a digital night vision video recorder they were testing at the precise moment and location of the crime.

Archetype Precision Systems Limited was testing a digital night vision video recorder in Hope Domain, shortly after midnight on Thursday, when the pair operating the recorder noticed a car pull on to the Domain carpark, and saw its occupants make a beeline towards the tennis clubrooms. They kept the recorder rolling, and because of the dark night, remained undetected as the crime unfolded and police arrived to catch the burglars.

The arrest was caught on camera.

Archetype is a nationwide distributor for several brands of night vision and thermal imaging systems. It supplies professional and military grade systems for search and rescue, NZ Coastguard, and for law enforcement.

On Thursday night the company directors were testing the equipment for the production of a security and law enforcement information video.

"We regularly evaluate and test equipment throughout the Nelson region, in such locations as industrial parks, farmland and public places, in order to assess the suitability and performance of each system.

"We could be anywhere at any time," they said.

For security reasons, the company directors' declined permission for their names to be used.

One of the directors said they noticed the car pulling into the domain carpark, and the actions of its occupants aroused enough suspicion for them to phone the police.

"The digital night vision recorder was used to maintain visual contact with the offenders. The subsequent arrest was captured to an SD card," they said.

The night vision operator said the conditions at the time were extremely dark, with only starlight and low ambient street lighting, which enabled him to stand in the open within 80 metres of the offenders without being detected.

"When the police arrived the arrest was recorded, unbeknown to both offenders and police," the operator said.

Police said the camera operator remained motionless and recorded the pair breaking into the Hope Tennis Club rooms.

"The man called police and continued to record the event, capturing police arriving and running down a man as he tried to get away," police said.

A 21-year-old man and 18-year-old woman were arrested at the scene.

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An undisclosed amount of cash was found on the pair, who were wearing gloves and carrying a range of tools police believed were used in the burglary, a spokesperson said.

Archetype said the digital night vision recorder used was a Pulsar Recon which it had supplied nationally to the Ministry for Primary Industries fisheries compliance and response units, as well as to private security and surveillance companies.

The units were worth about $1200 and ought to be standard police equipment for stealthily patrolling dark places, Archetype said.

"Using this equipment enables an officer to covertly observe and record a potentially dangerous situation while waiting for back-up."

The arrested pair will appear in the Nelson District Court on Monday.

- The Nelson Mail

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