Man jailed for distraction burglaries across Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 11:41 12 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:52 12 February 2016

Thomas Hannifin has been sentenced to 15 years and two months in prison.

Thomas Hannifin has been sentenced to 15 years and two months in prison.

Archant

A man who was charged with a series of distraction burglaries across the South East has been jailed following an appeal on Crimewatch.

The investigation was led by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s specialist team Operation Manhunt, which investigates distraction burglary, frauds and other crimes against the elderly.

It involved a series of distraction burglaries across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey and London. The majority of victims were aged in their 80s and 90s, with one victim aged 94.

In most cases, up to three offenders created a false reason to gain entry to the property to steal, such as investigating a burst pipe, or repairing a water leak. They then stole cash and jewellery.

Officers from Operation Manhunt appeared on Crimewatch in March 2015 to appeal for information about the burglaries, which took place between August and October 2014.

Police received an overwhelming response and Hannifin was arrested a week later.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and robbery at an earlier hearing on January 4.

He was sentenced to 12 years for 20 distraction burglaries and three years and two months for robbery, to run consecutively.

Detective Inspector Luke Whinnett from Operation Manhunt said: “Hannifin deliberately and callously targeted some of the most vulnerable members of society for his own selfish gain.

“I am pleased that he has been handed a substantial sentence for his despicable behaviour.

“It is a sad fact that criminals like these will be operating across the country day to day and I would like to take this opportunity to advise people to be vigilant if an unexpected caller arrives at your home.

“Our advice is simple, if you aren’t sure, don’t open the door.”

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