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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Distraction burglary detections among the best in country

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3:40pm 14th June 2011

North Yorkshire Police’s effectiveness in tackling offenders who prey on elderly and vulnerable victims has been highlighted in a national report.

The annual report of the Operation Liberal National Distraction Burglary Intelligence Unit - for the period 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011 - showed that North Yorkshire Police has the fourth best detection rate in England and Wales.

Of the 46 crimes reported in the county, 18 cases were detected by the force giving a detection rate of 39%.

Northumbria police topped the detection rate with 49% (45 crimes, 22 detections); Humberside had a 43% detection rate (100 crimes, 43 detections) and Norfolk came third with 41% detection rate (66 crimes, 27 detections).

Distraction burglary is a particularly calculated and malicious crime in which offenders dupe their way into people’s homes with the intention of stealing money and personal possessions.

The most common scenarios include pretending to be representatives from utility companies to inspect made-up problems with water, gas or electricity. However, they can also claim to be a tradesman and even bogus police officers.

CAS1

North Yorkshire Police had a notable success in February 2011 with the sentencing of three men at Newcastle Crown Court for a string of distraction burglaries.

Miles Connors, 39 and Patrick Connors, 18, from Barra Hall Circus, in Hayes, Middlesex, were given nine and seven years’ imprisonment respectively, after admitting to charges of conspiracy to burgle and burglary. James Hanrahan, 39, was handed a five year sentence after pleading guilty to burglary.

Their sentences followed a nationwide investigation led by North Yorkshire Police into a series of distraction burglaries ranging from Scarborough to Hampshire.

Detectives from York CID, assisted by officers from Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit specialising in combating distraction burglary, and the Metropolitan Police, caught up with the gang at the Selby Fork Hotel, in South Milford, on 28 April 2010.

The gang targeted elderly people by posing as police officers, and occasionally as utility company officials, as they tricked their way into their elderly victims’ homes to steal cash.

The local victims, who were mainly in their 70s, 80s and 90s, came from Scarborough and York and also Boston Spa in West Yorkshire.

Further victims were duped in Derbyshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Thames Valley, West Midlands, Wiltshire and London.

This case was used by Operation Liberal to launch a national awareness campaign.

CASE 2

More recently (Thursday 2 June 2011), North Yorkshire Police secured the conviction of two men from Leeds who carried out seven distraction burglaries in York and North Yorkshire.

Jimmy Connors, aged 22, from Leeds, was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court to five years and Joseph Doran, also 22, received six years imprisonment after pleading guilty to 15 offences in total.

Five of the offences were committed in York, with two more taking place in the village of Welburn and one in Thirsk.   

Other police forces involved in the investigation to bring these men to justice were Northumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester as well as West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.

Connors and Doran posed as officials working on behalf of water and gas companies to gain access to the victims' homes. All of their victims were elderly.

Detective Chief Superintendent Karnail Dulku, Head of Crime Directorate at North Yorkshire Police, welcomed the Operation Liberal report but said there would be no let up in the fight against distraction burglary.

He said:

"These results demonstrate that distraction burglars are more likely to be arrested and prosecuted if they commit their crimes in the North Yorkshire Police area. My message to such criminals is a stark one: 'stay out of North Yorkshire or go to jail'."

Tim Madgwick, North Yorkshire Police’s temporary Deputy Chief Constable, said:

“Distraction burglary is a calculated and cruel crime as the offenders deliberately target the most vulnerable members of our communities. This is truly sickening and simply cannot be tolerated.

“As the Operation Liberal annual report indicates, North Yorkshire Police is performing at a very high level nationally in bringing these offenders to justice and making them face the consequences of their actions.

“Our police officers and staff who have worked tirelessly to secure these convictions deserve a great deal of praise for these often complex, long-running and cross-border investigations.”


Nominated Neighbour Scheme

To help prevent distraction burglaries and rogue trader activities, North Yorkshire Police is promoting the Nominated Neighbour Scheme which encourages elderly and vulnerable residents to seek assistance from a trusted neighbour to help deal with cold callers.

The idea is for the homeowner to hold up a card to the window or door telling the caller that they do not recognise them and to go to their Nominated Neighbour. That neighbour will then check the caller's identity. A genuine caller will not mind following the instructions on the card and those with a criminal motive will make off very quickly.

Whatever happens, it is vital that any suspicious behaviour is reported to the police immediately.

For more information on the scheme please go to the North Yorkshire Police website - www.northyorkshire.police.uk/neighbour - where you can download the Nominated Neighbour card.

If you have information about people committing this type of offence please contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 24 7. If you would prefer to pass information anonymously you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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