A BURGLAR escaped with a stereo while police and Crimestoppers officials stood around watching!
The hooded raider even stopped to scrawl graffiti on a wall before making off with his loot.
The police didn't bother to give chase because the 'crime' was actually a publicity stunt designed to raise awareness of a confidential hotline which has helped catch around 20 criminals every day since 1988.
Now Crimestoppers has launched a hard-hitting campaign to beat burglary by urging people to make use of its anonymous telephone hotline.
The Stop Me Getting Away With This campaign was launched at Cheshire police's new Winsford headquarters in with a re-enactment of a burglar stealing a stereo from a 'lounge'.
Thankfully the burglar was proving cooperative - he even sprayed the message, 'Call 0800 555111 and stop me getting away with this' on the wall before he made off.
The campaign has been launched to hammer home the message that callers to the Crimestoppers phone line will not be traced or identified in any way.
Organisers hope people who would normally be reluctant to speak to police or give their names will instead call Crimestoppers and pass on information which could prove crucial in catching burglars and other criminals.
'People think the Crimestoppers number is part of the police force, but it's not, we are an independent charity,' explained Sue Arden, Crimestoppers' North West development manager.
'We work alongside the police, but calls are completely anonymous, they are not traced or recorded and we don't ask for any information about the caller.
'We know how traumatic burglary can be, yet many people have information about the culprits but don't come forward.
'This scheme allows anyone reluctant to talk to police to pass on information safe in the knowledge that no-one will ever know their name or where they are calling from.
'If someone does not mind giving their name or being a witness, they can call police. But that is not what we are about.'
Crimestoppers was launched in America. A university student was brutally murdered, but despite the high profile of the killing, police had no leads to go on. A detective working on the case hit upon the idea to set up an anonymous telephone line. Within 72 hours the killer had been arrested by police acting on information which had been left in confidence.
After that success a permanent line was set up and the scheme quickly spread across the entire United States.
In 1988 it reached England and the Crimestoppers Hotline was born, arriving in Cheshire a decade later.
Callers will always dial the same number, but depending on where they are in the country, they will be connected to a local call centre where details will be taken.
In Cheshire that information is picked up by a former detective who works solely for Crimestoppers. He will do the background checks and ensure all the information is passed on to police officers working on the case.
Crimestoppers offers two guarantees - callers will never be traced or identified and information will reach police.
Since the scheme was first set up, Crimestoppers has helped police crack thousands of cases. Statistics show 20 felons are arrested every day by officers acting on information gathered by Crimestoppers, with a suspected murderer caught on average once-a-week.
Crimestoppers encourages calls from people with any information, no matter how unimportant it may seem. When pieced together with other clues, even the most trivial titbit may lead to an arrest.
Callers to Crimestoppers are entitled to a cash reward if an arrest is made from information gleaned. Again, callers do not have to give up their identity to collect the reward, they simply use a serial number to stake a claim.
Cheshire Constabulary's Assistant Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard has no doubt Crimestoppers has made a massive contribution to reducing crime in the county.
'Since Crimestoppers was launched in Cheshire, the rate of detection has gone up, without a shadow of a doubt,' he said.
'It allows us to get valuable pieces of information that we wouldn't normally get to hear, from people who for whatever reason don't want to speak to police directly.
'We really do value the Crimestoppers service. We need to identify those persons who are blighting other people's lives by committing the very intrusive crime of burglary.
'In the last year calls to Crimestoppers have increased by 17.6% and arrests are up 22.3%. Meanwhile domestic burg-laries in Cheshire have been reduced by 7%.
'We are determined to see a reduction in this type of crime continue and our latest Crimestoppers initiative is designed to encourage anyone with even the smallest amount of information to call Crimestoppers. Their call can make all the difference.'
He added: 'Ideally we would like everyone to give us their names and be prepared to be a witness, but we recognise that there are occasions where people cannot do that and Crimestoppers is a wonderful benefit to the police.'
Anyone who has information about burglaries or any other crimes , but are reluctant to speak to police, are urged to call the Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.