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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Aussie man reports crime in Devon
Octagon kiosk
The Octagon kiosk is covered by webcam
A man in Australia tipped off police in Devon after seeing a suspected burglary on a webcam based in Exmouth.

Andrew Pritchard, 52, from Boorowa, New South Wales, saw two men run from a car to a beach-front kiosk.

After searching for the number of Devon and Cornwall police he was able to direct them to the scene of the crime.

It transpired the pair were a man and a woman having an argument, not conducting a burglary, but the police praised Mr Pritchard for his actions.

Broadband

Mr Pritchard, who emigrated to Australia from Broadstairs, Kent, was using a high-tech web cam which broadcasts a flow of live footage rather than slow-changing stills.

The small town of Boorowa had only just been given access to broadband internet, which allows high speed connections, a week before the incident.

Mr Pritchard, an audio-visual producer, said he was watching the Exmouth webcam because it was one of the best in the world.

He tuned in during his lunchtime, which was around 0330 BST in Devon.

He said the first thing he noticed were the streets bathed in artificial light from the street lamps.

Andrew Pritchard
Mr Pritchard rang Devon police

He told the BBC News website: "I checked the clock tower and then swung around the Esplanade and looked at the rain.

"I was about to log off when this car came along and stopped abruptly on the Esplanade.

"Two guys got out and headed directly to the kiosk, they appeared to try out the shutters, it looked like they were trying to break in."

Mr Pritchard brought up another browser window and searched for the police's number.

"I said this is Andrew Pritchard in Australia, I'm watching a web cam and it appears two men are breaking into a kiosk," he said.

Needless to say getting information from the other side of the world like this is not an everyday event
Police spokesman

He watched the webcam as police officers arrived at the scene, with two running either side of the kiosk while another police car blocked the suspects' vehicle.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said it transpired the pair were a man and a woman having an argument.

He added they were surprised to receive the call: "We always rely on public spirited people to act as our eyes and ears and to report suspicious activity at the time they see it.

"Needless to say getting information from the other side of the world like this is not an everyday event."


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