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‘Heartless’ distraction burglar jailed

1 Jul 2019

A distraction burglar who preyed on vulnerable, elderly people in their own homes has been jailed.

Anthony Smith, 53, of March Road, Coates, stole a handbag from a woman in her 80s after claiming to have carried out work at her home in Reeves Way, Peterborough.

The court heard Smith had approached the woman and her husband on 11 March and agreed to carry out some minor gardening work for them for £10, which they paid upfront.

However, the work was not carried out and when Smith returned on 22 March he took the opportunity to steal the handbag and flee as the man was taking him to see the work that needed doing in the garden.

Smith also visited another elderly resident at an address in Southfields Drive, Stanground, Peterborough, on 11 March where he claimed there were diseased trees in the rear garden, which needed treating. The occupant’s daughter became suspicious of Smith and asked him to leave. 

However, Smith returned on 22 March and let himself in. He was confronted by the occupant’s daughter and claimed he had spotted vermin in the rear garden, which he offered to deal with, but was again asked to leave. Nothing was stolen on this occasion but it’s believed Smith’s intention was to steal.

In both offences, Smith arrived at the houses in a red Transit van with another man who has not been identified.

Smith pleaded guilty to burglary at Peterborough Crown Court and was sentenced to 28 months in prison on Thursday (27 June). He was also ordered to pay compensation to his victims.  

DC Tom Adams, who investigated, said: “Smith is a heartless criminal who preyed on elderly, vulnerable victims in their own homes.    

“I would urge anyone who has an elderly or vulnerable relative to be vigilant when it comes to cold calling tradespeople; never pay upfront and always ask for ID.”

For online burglary prevention advice visit:

Anyone with information about burglary should call police on 101 or visit Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via


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