Robert Lodge, now 27, and Andrew Rubery, now 26
Robert Lodge, now 27, and Andrew Rubery, now 26

Distraction burglars jailed for offences across Yorkshire, including three in Knaresborough

2 March 2017

Two men who conned their way into elderly people’s homes to steal across Yorkshire have been jailed – three properties in Knaresborough were targeted.

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.

Although Lodge and Rubery were sentenced for the Lancashire offences, further investigation 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.

Once inside, they stole personal belongings such as purses, wallets and handbags containing cash. Some victims lost invaluable possessions, such as photographs of deceased family members.

A protracted investigation continued into the Yorkshire offences, first under Operation Rotate, by detectives from North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, 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. On 21 February 2017, at Leeds Crown Court, Lodge pleaded guilty to a burglary in Barnsley, a burglary in Halifax and three burglaries in Knaresborough.

Rubery pleaded guilty to a burglary in Halifax and a burglary in Leeds.

They were both 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.

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