95-year-old Knaresborough woman burgled by 'doorstep criminal'

Police continued a protracted investigation into the pair's crimes.
Police continued a protracted investigation into the pair's crimes.

A 27-year-old man who conned his way into and stole from the homes of three elderly Knaresborough residents has had two years added onto a current prison sentence.

In September 2015, Robert Lodge, now 27, and Andrew Rubery, now 26, were both sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for a number of distraction burglaries in Lancashire, at Burnley Crown Court.

However further investigations later revealed that a number of offences had also been committed in the Yorkshire area, where Lodge and Rubery posed as utility officials such as the gas or water officials, to gain access to elderly people’s homes.

On February 21 2017, Leeds Crown Court heard Lodge plead guilty to a burglary in Barnsley, a burglary in Halifax and three burglaries in Knaresborough.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: "Three Knaresborough properties were burgled on the January 22, 2015. In two of the offences a man posed as someone who was checking the electrical sockets, then in another offence a man posed as someone from the water board who was checking the radiators."

A 95-year-old woman was among the victims of the Knaresborough burglaries, alongside an 88-year-old man and 74-year-old man.

After sentencing for their offences in Lancashire a protracted investigation continued into the Yorkshire offences, first under Operation Rotate, by detectives from North, West and South Yorkshire and Humberside Police; and then as Operation Gauntlet, involving North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Trading Standards.

As a result, both were charged with further offences and on February 21 Rubery also pleaded guilty to a burglary in Halifax and a burglary in Leeds.

Police said that once inside, the pair stole personal belongings such as purses, wallets and handbags containing cash.

Some victims lost invaluable possessions, such as photographs of deceased family members.

Both men were given consecutive two-year sentences, increasing their original sentences to nine years in total.

DC Sam Harding, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "Doorstep criminals such as distraction burglars and rogue traders take advantage of people’s trust in the most callous way, deliberately targeting elderly and vulnerable people to steal from them. The impact that these crimes can have on their victims is simply devastating.

"The investigation we undertook into the activities of Lodge and Rubery is testament to the seriousness with which we take such offending.

"The custodial sentences will send a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated in our area."