Two men who exploited elderly home-owners and carried out a series of distraction burglaries across the county were finally snared by DNA in their flat caps.
Shane Richards, 30, and Carl Riddiough, 30, both from the Doncaster area, targeted homes between August 1 and 3 last year stealing cash and jewellery.
Victims reported two men had knocked on the door claiming their ball had been kicked into the back garden. When the homeowners took one of the men to get the ball, the other would search the house and steal property. Other burglaries involved patio doors being smashed.
Police at the time warned North Yorkshire residents to be on the lookout for similar offences, and report any suspicious activity and launched a special operation led by the Op Gauntlet Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team.
The suspects were said to be wearing flat caps, and a vigilant witness spotted two men in caps behaving suspiciously in a vehicle which was later found by North Yorkshire Police.
Investigators were able to link the DNA of two men to two flat caps found inside. Glass experts also analysed the caps, and found samples of glass from one of the burglary scenes in both of them. Mobile phone data and fingerprints also provided evidence for the case.
At York Crown Court yesterday Richards pleaded guilty to five distraction burglaries, in Filey, Scagglethorpe, Boroughbridge, Scarborough and Great Ayton.
He also pleaded guilty to a burglary in Whitby where a patio window was smashed. He was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the North Yorkshire offences, as well as three years’ concurrent imprisonment for a number of offences committed in the Lincolnshire area.
Riddiough pleaded guilty to the Whitby burglary. He was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
DC Sam Harding, of the Op Gauntlet Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team, said: “This was a complex investigation in which each agency played a key role. Richards’ and Riddiough’s offending left their victims extremely distressed, and it is right that they are both now behind bars.
“Burglars often target the most vulnerable people in our communities, tricking or breaking their way into homes and stealing sentimental or valuable property. These awful crimes can have a huge impact on the victims and their families.
“Residents can, however, be reassured that a number of agencies are working together to tackle this type of crime in North Yorkshire, and bring offenders to justice. We also want to encourage people – particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable – to be vigilant against this type of crime. Do not let anyone into your home if you are not certain who they are. If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.