back to article Massive police 'heavy equipment' robot drags out suspect who hid inside television

A hefty police robot described by its human colleagues as "heavy equipment" charged into a besieged house through a barrage of stun grenades and choking riot gas at the weekend, before finding and forcefully apprehending a wanted man who had somehow managed to conceal himself inside a television. The robot belonged to the …

  1. akeane
    Thumb Down

    Where's a frackin...

    PICTURE of the robot man!!!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Where's a frackin...

      While I enjoy seeing the ED209 you are right, a picture of the "heavy equipment" would be nice!

      1. thomas k.

        Re: Where's a frackin...

        I, too, enjoy seeing pictures of "heavy equipment". Oh, wait, you meant ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's a frackin...

      What I would give to see video footage of that metallic apprehension.

    3. Ralph B

      Re: Where's a frackin...

      Some googling suggests it might have been a Rometec Wolverine.

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Where's a frackin...

        Some googling suggests it might have been a Rometec Wolverine.

        Cue the inevitable IT Crowd quote...

        "What kind of operating system does it use?"

        "Err... it's... Vista!"

        "We're going to die!"

    4. Little Mouse

      Re: Where's a frackin...

      Sod the robot.

      I want to see a picture of the TV that can somehow accomodate a grown man.

      1. Jim 59

        Re: Where's a frackin...

        Not a flat screen.

        1. Captain Scarlet

          Re: Where's a frackin...

          So basically the short circuit robot without a head

      2. sisk

        Re: Where's a frackin...

        I want to see a picture of the TV that can somehow accomodate a grown man.

        Ask your grandparents about the TVs they had growing up. My grandparents' TV (which they kept well into my childhood) wasn't particularly big for the time, but it could easily accommodate a grown man. Possibly even with room for a second if said man were on the leanish side.

    5. Oninoshiko

      Re: Where's a frackin...

      You don't really expect elReg to use that useless image for something useful do you?

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    This is USA

    If it is one of the corner of living room projection monsters of the olden days (some of those could only be rented, never sold), you can cram two people into that. And some ammo to defend the position too.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: This is USA

      Yes, the old DLP projection TVs or rear screen projectors.

      Yet another reason to own a flat panel TV. Only Kate Moss could fit in to one of those...

  3. James 51

    Is it standard procedure to send robots in now or was their a reason to assume this person was a threat to the heavily armed and armoured police?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is better to send robots

      Robot operators are nowhere near as trigger happy as your average USA cop.

      So the likelihood of incidents like standing on a car bonnet and firing 40-odd rounds downwards from point blank range into two unarmed suspects is greately diminished. Or alternatively, shooting a suspect 7 times in the back and putting your tazer next to him after that so you can say "he tried to get hold of my weapon".

      So for what it's worth, it is better if they use a tin can with a capacitor bank and some sedative darts. The likelihood of casualties will be considerably less. Same goes for armed responce units elsewhere like in the UK. The sole difference is that there are fewer of them (thankfully).

      1. Gordon 10

        Re: It is better to send robots

        Bullshit AC - have you even looked at the statistics in the UK for the discharge of firearms in the UK. Clue it averages around 4-5 times PER YEAR. Note that's just discharges not kills. Compare that to the US where there were 461 "justifiable homicides" in one YEAR.

        Sources :

        Im all for the occasional Brazilian plumber dig at the Met but the reality is that the UK cops aren't even comparable to those in the US when it comes to gun use/training.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is better to send robots

          "I'm all for the occasional Brazilian plumber dig at the Met..."

          Actually the police record on shooting unarmed Brazilian plumbers is impeccable. Electricians, well that's a different story.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is better to send robots


          While there are few discharges, a SIGNIFICANT number of them finish with fatalities and court cases. The cops in the UK that are armed are as trigger happy as their US counterparts (if not more) and shoot to kill in nearly all cases. There is no intention of shooting to disable or disarm. It is not what they are trained for either.

          As some other people mentioned, Brazilian electricians are popular as target practice and so are Rodneys, Duggans, deranged bankers having too much bolivian marching powder and a shotgun and so on. This is just off the top of my head over the last 10 (or so) years.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is better to send robots

            Despite what you see in the movies, US cops are trained to shoot to kill only, there is no shooting the suspect in the hand to make him drop the gun or shooting him in the shoulder to disable. They are taught to shoot center mass, multiple rounds.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: US cops are trained to shoot to kill only

              A friend of a friend is a police firearm specialist in the US who regularly shoots the legs out from under drug-crazed weapon-wielding idiots, and has even been thanked by perps for not shooting them dead.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is better to send robots

            You say "shoot to kill" as though there are other equally good options. The choice, when one needs to shoot someone, is between some sort of ridiculous trick shot aimed at a limb - thin, probably moving - or worse, the target's weapon, and shooting into the centre of the body. In one case there's a strong risk of missing and hurting someone else - in the other case you can be nearly a foot off your point of aim in any direction and still hit the target.

            Once you've made the decision that you can only resolve the situation using a weapon that can kill, you use the weapon as efficiently (and safely for everyone else around you) as possible.

          3. sisk

            Re: It is better to send robots

            The cops in the UK that are armed are as trigger happy as their US counterparts (if not more) and shoot to kill in nearly all cases.

            Any firearm-wielding law enforcement officer in the world is trained to shoot to kill. Most of them (including in the US, though you wouldn't know it from the recent media hypegasm) are also trained not to shoot unless there are lives at stake.

            Shooting to disarm is something that snipers who can shoot dimes out of the air at 200 yards occasionally get called in to do. It's surprisingly hard to do and not something a beat cop armed with a .45 or a 9mm is expected to be capable of.

        3. Bucky 2

          Re: It is better to send robots

          I had a "yeah but" moment, so I had to do the math.

          4-5 times per year per 53 million people


          461 times per year per 319 million people

          or 0.08 ppm vs 1.4 ppm

          So the UK really shoots at people at a gigantic 5% of the US rate, rather than the totally exaggerated 1% that was implied.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: It is better to send robots

            "According to the 2011 census, the total population of the United Kingdom was around 63,182,000"

            "The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538", 2010 Census

            Source: wikipedia.

            I'm not sure of current estimates for the UK, US seems to be estimates as about 318,000,000 so I used the nearest dated census data.

            So that's 0.06 versus 1.5 so only 4% on 2010/11 figures.

            Guessing that UK pop. is now 65m and USA est. of 318m gives:

            0.06 & 1.3 making it 4.5%

            Yes, I was bored.

          2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

            Re: It is better to send robots

            Wrong math! you can't compare 4-5 discharges to 461 casualties. I don't have discharge data at hand but I'd expect it to be significantly higher. As a result the percentage is probably lower than 1%...

    2. amolbk

      Maybe they are testing/training on the equipment in reasonably controlled environments?

  4. Robert Helpmann??

    Community Support

    I especially liked the bit in the linked article that said "the police department is thankful to 'all the neighbors and citizens in the area who showed patience and restraint.” I am not not sure if they mean that they are happy the neighbors didn't start firing on the suspect's residence, that they didn't cross the police barricade for a better look at the action, that they were filming the police the whole time, or some combination of the three.

  5. Blofeld's Cat


    "... had failed to get the besieged man to give himself up despite sending him more than 100 text messages suggesting that he should do so. "

    Perhaps his phone was turned off, or there's no signal in that part of town. Maybe they could have tried another means of communication (see icon).

    OTOH How often do they get a chance to use the "heavy equipment" robot ?

    1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

      Re: Hmm...

      I think after the text messages failed they should have moved on to a major, i mean major, leaflet campaign. And then a quiche drive....

      1. Chris Hunt

        Re: Hmm...

        ...followed by carving a few bullet points on a big block of stone and, oh, hang on...

  6. DropBear


    Pardon me but since when does being inside a "TV cabinet" mean the same thing as being inside a "television"?!? Not the least because getting inside a modern flat TV would be nonsensical, while getting inside an old CRT-based one would require nothing short of a contortionist. Hiding in a piece of furniture is a lot more understandable, even if hardly any comfier.

    1. Tom_

      Re: Huh?

      It was probably one of those large screen, rear projection TVs. They looked a bit like Punch and Judy stands and were popular in the US around the turn of the millennium.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh?

      "hid inside television..." cabinet? maybe the title got truncated. Certainly confused me!

    3. Kubla Cant

      Re: Huh?

      I don't see what's impossible about hiding inside a TV. There are lots of people inside my TV. Some read news, others sing or tell jokes. I don't know how they get in there.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh?

      Television *cabinets* can be quite large -- and may not hold only TVs but other audio equipment, DVD collections, etc. Often the shelves are adjustable and thus removable, so there could be plenty of room in one for a full grown man. Maybe the confusion is from the difference in word usage in the UK and US... does "TV cabinet" in the UK refer mainly to the TV itself, or to the furniture that you place the TV in or on? In the US, in my experience, it refers to the latter.

  7. Anonymous Custard

    This story was brought to you by...

    I just love the sponsorship tagline I randomly got at the bottom of that story. It was beautifully appropriate that a piece about a guy being collared whilst hidden inside an old TV and then outed by a robot and stun grenades was underscored by the sponsor tagline:

    "Sponsored: Flash storage for dummies"

  8. ARGO

    This needs....


  9. viscount

    Militarization of the police

    A good example of the continued arming of the police in the USA (and probably elsewhere) despite little obvious benefit. The Economist had a good article on it:

    1. iranu

      Re: Militarization of the police

      And when you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

      1. Hollerith 1

        Re: Militarization of the police

        Yep. When a few cops sitting around outside for a few days with a movement sensor while the guy inside got hungry and thirsty and finally emerged to go the to bathroom or the kitchen, then perhaps a fan blowing the tempting scents of a freshly-delivered pizza into his house, would have been just as effective and less expensive.

        But they all want to go SWAT.

  10. phuzz Silver badge

    Referring to the robot as "heavy equipment" is a bit harsh, perhaps it's just glandular?

  11. 7

    Heavy equipment

    Just big boned.

  12. DocJames

    Breaking bad

    I assume he was an associate of Walter White. Albuquerque means nothing else...

  13. Jim 59

    Are we talking robot, or just glorified/armoured/armed remote control car.

  14. macjules

    Take that copper!

    Foiled you! I switched my mobile to mute and turned off the vibrate in silent mode function. Now you can text me all you like. In the meantime I will be dieting so that I can hide inside my new Sony LED TV ....

  15. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    I am now authorised to use lethal force

    Understandably worried, the fleshy cops covered their mechanical colleague's attack with a fusillade of "flash bang" stun ordnance and filled the house with tear gas for good measure.

    Fuck me. Can you say "over-reaction"?

    Wouldn't all the gas, and smoke from the flash-bangs, obscure the robots cameras, making it harder to control? All seems rather pointless and over the top. Surely just send the bot in with a few cops covering the exits and one on the remote. No need for a SWAT battalion and the shock and awe.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: I am now authorised to use lethal force

      Sadly the whole shock and awe bit has become standard operating procedure for most police forces. Soon we'll see all police trained to stand in as a SWAT member at a moments notice as the teams are more regularly deployed for even the most minor investigations. It seems they will be in need of a new backronym, Typical Weapons And Tactics seems more appropriate.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I am now authorised to use lethal force

        How awesome would it be if some humourless politco, feeling the use of SWAT teams had genuinely become typical practice, actually changed the acronym to that?

    2. Red Bren

      Re: I am now authorised to use lethal force @Jimmy2Cows

      "Can you say "over-reaction"

      And if they hadn't, the robot would have got taken out, just 2 days before its retirement.

  16. iranu

    Municipal Armoured Roving Vehicle - Incarceratoring & Nabbing

    Brain the size of a planet and all they want me to do is grab wanted felons. I'm so depressed.

  17. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    OMG DUDE!!!!1

    "despite sending him more than 100 text messages suggesting that he should do so."

    Srsly dude cum ot, we wnt dnuts n tcos LOL

    TV?? k c ya! Pmsl

    M8, cmon, soz but big rbot gtz u!1111

  18. Mnot Paranoid

    When reality becomes like something out of South Park...

  19. Lord Lien

    ED 209.....

    ..... legend of a robot.

    "Please put down your weapon you have 20 seconds to comply!"

  20. AndyFl

    What happened to ROTM?

    This is a perfect match for Rise Of The Machines.

  21. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    So, cops apprehended the guy without injury, no-one got shot, but the haters still have to post loads of anti-cop whining bleats.

  22. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Were these TeleTexts?

    The Robot first got him into a Horizontal Hold position then punished him by getting him to write out 625 lines "I must not..." He later claimed that he had been framed.

  23. Shovel

    How did they determine that this ONE guy was so dangerous that they had to throw the kitchen sink at him? Did they blow their whole wad for the year on this extraction? In one exercise they get to refresh their inventory of ordinance, explosives, chemical weapons, and data plans (If their texts weren't getting they probably had Straight Talk from Walmart).

  24. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    My wife ...

    ... would like to know if one of these are similarly effective in extracting people from in front of television sets.

  25. Six_Degrees

    "suspect who hid inside television"

    This is a sentence that will be utterly incomprehensible to the next generation.

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