A burglar who tricked his way into the home of an 88-year-old couple from Crawley has been jailed for seven years.
Patrick Doyle, 45, of London, targeted pensioners in three parts of Sussex in one day.
His first victims, from Woodfield Road, Northgate, were burgled at around 11.20am on Friday November 22 2013.
Doyle and an accomplice claimed they were from the council and were there to put new fences up.
After the men left, the 88-year-old husband and wife became suspicious, noticed money was missing and called police.
The thieves then stole hundreds of pounds from a 90-year-old woman in Manor Gardens, Brighton, after claiming they were water board officials, and cash and jewellery from an 84-year-old woman in Green Street, Eastbourne, after convincing her they had been called about a broken fence.
Doyle was caught after officers were able to link both a footprint at one of the homes and a vehicle seen near each of the victims’ addresses to the burglar.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court.
Because he had previous convictions for burglary, the court jailed him for seven years under the third strike rule.
The court also ordered him to pay a £120 victim surcharge.
Detective Constable Richard Valder-Davis said: “It is possible that there were more victims who have never come forward and I would encourage anyone who was visited by Doyle to contact us.
“We are still looking for the man who accompanied Doyle at each of the crimes.
“I would also urge people to check who they are opening their front door to and especially who they let into their homes.”
John Wright, the chairman of Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation, said: “Across the county people living in more than 120,000 homes that are members of Neighbourhood Watch are acting as the eyes and ears of Sussex Police.
“We know who is usually in our own streets and can quickly and easily spot strangers and people acting suspiciously. I would urge anybody who sees anything out of the ordinary to tell the police immediately.
“It’s far better to be safe than sorry. The police are never too busy to listen.”
When you are visited at home:
- If you have a chain on your door, keep it on while you check who is there and what they want.
- If you’re not expecting someone and you don’t know them, don’t let them into your home, no matter what they say to you.
- If a caller is genuine they will be happy to show you identification that proves who they are.
- If you have any concerns about someone who has called at your door, call police immediately.
If you have any information about burglaries call 101, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
If you know a burglary is taking place call 999.
To get involved in Neighbourhood Watch call 101, speak to your local PCSO or visit www.sussexnwfed.org.uk.