'Distraction Burglars' Posing As Undercover Police Officers Jailed
Teams worked in west London and preyed on elderly and vulnerable
The two teams conned the elderly and vulnerable into believing they were undercover police officers, in order to enter homes in Hillingdon, Harrow, Ealing, Hounslow, Brent, Twickenham and numerous Home Counties.
One of the teams, consisting of three men, including a father and son, appeared today, Friday 25 February, at Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing. They are:
James Hanrahan, 39, of Park Parade, Barra Hall Circus, Hayes, Middlesex, was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to one count of distraction burglary.
They all pleaded guilty on 17 December 2010.
A second team, consisting of a further three men, had previously been convicted and sentenced on Friday 14 January for similar offences. They are:
Michael Murphy, 19, of Josephine Court, Southcote Road, Reading, was sentenced to five years imprisonment, after pleading guilty to numerous counts of conspiracy to commit distraction burglary between 10 February and 10 June 2010.
Thomas Reynolds, 26, of Kersey Crescent, Newbury, was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment, after pleading guilty to numerous counts of conspiracy to commit distraction burglary between 10 February and 10 June 2010.
Felix Rooney, 22, of Kersey Crescent, Newbury, was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment, after pleading guilty to numerous counts of conspiracy to commit distraction burglary between 10 February and 10 June 2010.
In early February 2010, officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), identified a spate of distraction burglaries in West London, which were being committed by men posing as plain-clothed police officers. As a result a dedicated task force was set up.
The specialist team drew upon the expertise from officers working within the affected boroughs. The officers carried out extensive gathering of intelligence and a detailed cold case review into all crimes that had been previously reported. Covert operations were also carried out and the team worked with colleagues from Operation Liberal (National Distraction Serious and Organised Crime Unit), along with Hampshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside Constabularies, who were also experiencing increases in distraction burglaries with the same Modus Operandi.
The investigation identified that there were two separate teams operating in a similar fashion and that each crime committed had similar characteristics.
The men duped elderly and vulnerable victims into believing that they were police officers, in order to enter homes and further distract the occupant in order to steal their valuables. Hanrahan and the two Connors were arrested on 28 April 2010, in a South Yorkshire Hotel, by officers from Yorkshire Constabulary, on suspicion of burglary and handling stolen goods.
The second team comprising of Murphy, Reynolds and Rooney, were arrested on 10 June 2010 in Hillingdon, following a covert surveillance operation by officers from the MPS and Thames Valley Police. At the time they resisted arrest, driving off from police officers and ramming their vehicle into police cars along the eastbound A40.
Detective Chief Superintendent Julian Worker, Metropolitan Police Service, said: "By using our expertise and working together with our colleagues across the country, we have taken two very active burglary teams off the streets. These sentences are the result of detailed and experienced investigative work by all of the agencies involved, based upon the limited information given by vulnerable victims.
"These convictions are truly the result of dedicated and tireless police work which clearly shows that these types of crimes are unacceptable."
Police advise the following when dealing with unexpected callers:
- Always use a door chain or spy-hole to check who is calling before you open the door.
- Callers from gas, electricity, other utilities and the council carry ID cards.
- Make them show the card, and then use the number in the phone book to call the relevant company and check that they are a genuine member of staff. Make sure they wait outside while you do this - genuine callers will not mind waiting while you check.
- Always stay with the caller while they are in your home. You should be suspicious if they want to look round on their own.
- Never show where you keep valuables. Do not keep large amounts of money in the house - even if you think it is well-hidden.
- If you are at all suspicious of the caller, DO NOT LET THEM IN. Lock the door and call the police.
February 26, 2011