CROOKS who prey on elderly and vulnerable people in the Scarborough area face some of the toughest cops in the country, North Yorkshire Police have claimed.
According to a national report, the force’s effectiveness in detecting distraction burglaries is the fourth best in the country.
The figures follow a number of distraction burglaries in the 2010/11 year, some of which were carried out by a gang which struck in Scarborough.
In February, Miles Connors, 39 and Patrick Connors, 18, from 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 into a series of distraction burglaries ranging from Scarborough to Hampshire.
The gang tricked their way into their elderly victims’ homes to steal cash.
Among their victims, who were mainly in their 70s, 80s and 90s, were residents from Scarborough and York.
Distraction burglary is described by the force as 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.
Of the 46 crimes reported to the force 18 offenders were detected, giving a detection rate of 39 per cent.
Only Northumbria police with a rate of 49 per cent, Humberside with 43 per cent and Norfolk with 41 per cent fared better than North Yorkshire.
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.
“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.”
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 who will check the caller’s identity.
For more information on the scheme 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 6060247 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.