A burglar who tricked his way into the homes of pensioners in three different parts of Sussex in a single day has been jailed for seven years.
Patrick Doyle targeted an 84-year-old woman from Eastbourne, an 88-year-old couple in Crawley and a 90-year-old woman in Brighton – all on November 22.
The Crawley victims were visited at their home in Woodfield Road at around 11.20am.
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 the 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.
The 45-year-old, of Western Road, London, 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, added, “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.”
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.
Sussex Police launched Operation Magpie in June last year to tackle burglary across the county.
Since April the number of offences has fallen by 15 per cent, according to police statistics.