A TV Licensing detector van, which was conducting not-so-covert surveillance, has been cornered by a concerned father in the Plymouth area.
The distinctive plain white VW Transporter van, registration number VE09 TPU, has been observed in the same street on five separate occasions now. The concerned resident, who does not legally require a TV licence, thought it was about time he challenged the suspicious occupants about the purpose of their visits.
Having called the police to report his suspicions, he approached the van and stood that close that it was unable to drive away. The driver, the Bob Hoskins lookalikey shown in the image below, went to some lengths to hide his identity by covering his face and then scurrying into the rear of the vehicle like a trapped rat.
Once the police arrived they quickly confirmed that the occupants of the van were indeed employed by TV Licensing contractor, Capita Business Services Ltd. The police officer checked the goons' paperwork and was satisfied that they correctly authorised to conduct surveillance at that location.
Information obtained by the TV Licensing Blog suggests that these vans work by focusing a "detection camera" towards the windows of a target property. The camera, so the story goes, is able to detect tiny fluctuations in light emitted by a TV screen, which a computer then crossmatches against TV programmes being broadcast at the same time.
We consider focusing any sort of camera into someone else's property perverse in the extreme, but it would appear that Capita TV Licensing, which operates the vehicles, has no qualms at all about invading the privacy of people suspected of unlicensed TV reception.
You can read more about the legalities surrounding the use of detection equipment in our earlier article on the subject.
The encounter happened earlier today and video footage has just been uploaded to YouTube.
We shall add more information to this article as it becomes available.