Mole on cheek helps police 'Memory Man' spot theft suspect

Published: 15-08-2012

AN AWARD-WINNING officer with a photographic memory for criminals faces has added to his hit rate after chasing down a burglary suspect through Birmingham city centre crowds.

PCSO Andy Pope was honoured by West Midlands Police recently for his record of identifying more than 130 wanted people in just 12 months having memorised their images from CCTV stills and police briefing systems.

And yesterday (August 14) the officer dubbed the force's 'Memory Man' struck again when he recognised a suspected thief from a mole on his cheek!

PCSO Pope who works with the Safer Travel team policing public transport routes spotted the 28-year-old in Station Street and pursued him through the indoor and outdoor markets before colleagues arrived to make an arrest.

During the chase he was assaulted by the man wanted in connection with a Solihull burglary and a beating and also threatened with a pair of scissors he picked up from a market stall.

He said: 'I was patrolling in the city centre when I clocked the man walking towards us I'd spotted the mole on his cheek and, as he came closer, realised it was our man who was on police systems as wanted since May.

'I radioed for back-up and, along with my colleague Natasha Luczak, kept tabs on him. At one stage he got in a taxi; when I spoke to the cabbie asking him not to drive off the suspect made a run for it but we managed to keep him in sight and continually relayed his location through to officers.

'After a chase through the markets we cornered him in Moat Lane and marked cars appeared right on cue to take him away. It's one more wanted person off our streets!'

A 28-year-old man from Small Heath is being questioned by detectives on suspicion of three assaults including one on PCSO Pope � and a burglary in Ulleries Road, Hobs Moat, on April 18 where a 42-inch TV and lap-top were stolen.

PCSO Pope was presented with the Joyce Campbell Award an accolade given to honour the force's police staff member of the year on July 11 from West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims.

Father-of-one Andy has helped the Safer Travel team dramatically cut crime on the region's bus, train and tram network.

Last year there were 345 fewer victims compared to the previous 12 months and, over the last five years, public transport crime has fallen by a huge 65 per cent.

It means that there is only one offence committed on West Midlands public transport in every 147,000 bus rides.

Andy, from Redditch, added: 'With Safer Travel I spend a lot of time in Birmingham and on arterial routes into the centre a lot of offenders do pass through city at some point and, when they do, I want to be able to recognise them.

'I get into work 30 minutes before my shift starts and scan police systems to see if any new wanted faces have been added and I'll maybe have another look at lunch as a refresher. I don't think I've got any special gift, just a knack for remembering faces.

'I'm responsible for a couple of busy bus corridors; it's my job to make them as safe as possible so passengers can enjoy a pleasant journey. Anyone causing a problem for passengers I want to find them.'

Launched six years ago, Safer Travel is a joint venture between West Midlands Police, regional transport authority Centro, National Express and British Transport Police and works to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour on public transport.