‘Police officer’ gang conned the elderly

A PROLIFIC gang of distraction burglars who posed as police officers to target a Scarborough man and other elderly victims are today beginning long prison sentences.

Miles Connors, 39, Patrick Connors, 18, and James Hanrahan, 39, were sentenced to a total of 21 years’ imprisonment yesterday at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard the trio, who are all from Barra Hall Circus in Hayes, called at the home of an 81-year-old man in Milton Avenue, Scarborough, last April and asked to come in, under the guise of police officers. They claimed they needed to take a statement from him as they had two offenders in their car who said they knew the victim and they needed to verify their story. But they left empty handed after the victim asked the men for identification.

Miles Connors and Patrick Connors are beginning sentences of nine and seven years in prison, respectively, after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to burgle and burglary. Hanrahan was handed a five year sentence after pleading guilty to burglary.

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

Chief Inspector Steve Smith, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “The convictions today will help protect the public, especially the elderly, from these dangerous people.

“The evidence gathered in this case implicated each of the defendants in burglaries across the country in 11 different police forces. They are professional in that this is how they live - by stealing money.

“They have at no time expressed any remorse for what they have done and the affect they have had on those who were burgled.

“Some of the victims have died since these offences, and while no evidence has shown a link between the defendants and their death, I don’t doubt for one minute that the shock of being burgled in such a fashion, in their own home, was anything but very distressing for these people.

“I hope the victims and their families can take some comfort from the outcome at court.

“I urge all people to remain vigilant and be aware of the risks presented by people cold calling, especially if they claim to be from the water board, electric board or the police. We are working across the country with local forces to try and raise people’s awareness of distraction burglaries and bogus callers, and we can all play a part in keeping an eye out for our neighbours and relatives.”

Victims were duped in York, Boston Spa, Derbyshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Thames Valley, West Midlands, Wiltshire and London.

The gang, who also occasionally posed as utility company officials, targeted vulnerable residents mainly in their 70s, 80s and 90s, tricking their way into their victims’ homes to steal cash. Detectives from York CID, assisted by officers from Operation Liberal, a national intelligence unit specialising in combating distraction burglary, and the Metropolitan Police, caught up with the gang at a hotel in Selby on April 28 last year.