A mother and daughter who uncovered a cash machine scam after wrestling sophisticated recording equipment from two men in a Sutton Coldfield car park yesterday refused to describe their actions as brave.
Leigh Nicholls and her mother Yvonne led police to four Romanian men who were yesterday jailed for plunder-ing tens of thousands of pounds from accounts in Birmingham.
The gang installed false fronts on machines and used mini cameras to secretly record users entering their pin numbers.
Among the cash stolen by the men was the first month's wages of 19-year-old Leigh, who had recently started work in the offices of a cleaning company.
The men copied the details of her card when she used the only working cashpoint at the car park of Tesco in Oscott, Birmingham, in November.
Two days later Leigh, from Sutton Coldfield, noticed that £550 had been taken from her account, and fearing that she would not have any Christmas money, engaged in some part-time detective work.
Exactly a week after the cash was stolen from her card, Leigh visited the same Tesco car park where she queued up at the same cashpoint, which was again the only machine to be in operation.
Ms Nicholls said: "When I got to the front of the queue I noticed a red wire coming out.
I picked at it with my false finger nail and I undid some Velcro which pulled something off the machine.
"It was this grey thing, about the length of a forearm. It later turned out to be a mini camera.
"The man behind me in the queue took it off me and said 'I will take it to security'.
"My mom then grabbed it off him and said: 'No you won't!'
He was with another man, and they both tried to keep hold of it before running off.
"I wasn't brave, I was petrified. It was my mother who was brave".
A security guard at Tesco took the registration number of the men's car, which was used in the police investigation.
Yvonne Nicholls, aged 46, said: "These were unsavoury characters. It was Leigh's first pay packet and it w as just before Christmas.
"I never thought about what I was doing at the time. I wasn't brave. But afterwards I thought I could have been stabbed."
Constantin Micu (30), Andrian Botnariuc (24), both of Bosworth Drive, Chelmsley Wood, Robert Thoth-Lukaz (23), of no fixed address and Albert Kovach (22), of Sydenham, London, all admitted a charge of conspiracy to steal.
Botnariuc was jailed for 18 months, Micu and Kovach each for 15 months while ThothLukaz received a 12 month prison sentence.
Kevin Hegarty, prosecuting, said the group had been putting false fronts on to cashpoints in Birmingham which were fitted with a card reader and micro camera.
This enabled the gang to record bank details and pin numbers.
The men were then using the information to take as much money out of accounts as they could before the fraud was discovered.
He said the investigation led to police raiding the Bosworth Drive address which was at the centre of the operation.
There they removed various items including other false cashpoint fronts, tape used to secure them in place, a camera box containing discs and cables, a lap top computer and card swipe machine.
He said there was evidence of the gang transferring information they had obtained on to mobile phone cards using a lap top, and that the police also recovered from the address £3,150 and 8,000 euros.
They men were arrested two weeks after the Nicholls' contacted police when a woman using another machine in Church Road, Yardley, called detectives when she saw two men acting suspiciously.