A man who impersonated a police officer before stealing a bank card from an elderly resident, which he later used to make numerous purchases, has been jailed.
Detectives investigating a series of distraction burglaries in Bognor Regis were able to link James Beaney, 45, of Gravits Lane, Bognor Regis, to at least two of them.
About 8pm on 16 May, he called at the address of an 89-year-old man in the town. He claimed to be a plain-clothed police officer and insisted on searching the property to ensure the man was not the victim of a recent burglary.
Beaney left the property without having stolen any items, and was later recognised as the offender during an identification procedure.
Around the same time the following evening, a 92-year-old woman answered her door in Pagham to a man matching the same description as Beaney.
Again, he impersonated a police officer and gave a false account in able to enter the address. Whilst the victim was distracted, he stole her wallet containing cash and a bank card.
Enquiries revealed the stolen card had been used to purchase items including food and alcohol from stores in the nearby area on at least two occasions after the burglary, and CCTV showed Beaney was responsible.
He was arrested and charged with burglary, burglary with intent to steal, and two counts of dishonestly making a false representation to make gain for himself or cause loss to another.
Beaney was remanded in custody to appear before Portsmouth Crown Court on 17 June, where he pleaded guilty to all offences. He was sentenced to a total of four years’ imprisonment.
Detective Constable Gaye Moore, of Bognor Regis Investigations, said: “Beaney preyed on vulnerable elderly residents and gave a false account – even going as far as to claim officers did not carry identification while undercover – in order to enter their homes and steal their valuables.
“Thanks to the accounts provided by the victims and some witnesses, we were able to swiftly identify and locate Beaney, and link him to these offences. Now justice has been served.
“I’d like to remind residents to remain vigilant and challenge anyone who calls at your address without ID, especially if they are unexpected. No professional will mind waiting outside whilst you make a call to confirm their identity, and police officers will always show their warrant card.”
Detectives are continuing to investigate a number of other distraction burglaries in the area from 19 March to 24 April, during which time items including cash and jewellery were stolen.
Anyone with any information about these incidents is urged to report it online or call 101, quoting reference 47220088869.