Two burglars who worked together to distract their elderly victim so they could steal from her Ramsgate home have been jailed.
On March 30, 2017, the victim – a woman in her 80s- answered her door to an unknown woman who was offering to carry out gardening work for her. While the victim spoke to the woman at the front door, she was unaware that a man had crept into her Northwood Road house through another open door and stolen two of her handbags. The bags contained cash, bank cards and family photographs.
The victim didn’t realise what had happened until later in the day when she noticed the bags were missing.
But the man had been seen by witnesses as he left the house and during an investigation by Kent Police, CCTV images of the man and a computer-generated image of the woman were produced and the suspects were identified by officers.
Officers from the Divisional Support Unit later arrested 53-year-old Lindsey Sprackling at her home in Hertford Street in Ramsgate on suspicion of the distraction burglary.
Christopher McDonagh, 41, was also there and recognised by officers as Sprackling’s partner in the crime and also arrested.
A search of Sprackling’s home uncovered the clothing worn by the pair during the burglary and a purse containing the irreplaceable photographs of the victim’s family.
The pair were each charged with one count of burglary and at court admitted the offences.
Sprackling was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Tuesday (April 17) to two-and-a-half years in prison and today (April 19) McDonagh, of Hertford Street in Ramsgate, was sentenced to four years in prison.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Richard Cordery said: “The fact the victim was unaware of the burglary at first shows how practiced and accomplished this pair are at distraction burglary.
“They showed no empathy towards their victim, as Sprackling brazenly approached and lured the elderly woman into this trap and kept her talking while McDonagh crept into the home and stole a handful of items.
“It was a disgusting trick and I am pleased we were able to bring them to justice. The victim made it clear that the potential loss of the family photographs had devastated her, and it is only thanks to the thorough search by uniformed officers that they were recovered. The two offenders had no regard for this impact and thought only of their immediate gratification.
“Sadly this type of burglary is often aimed at older people as they are seen as easy targets.
“It’s important both for elderly people to be especially vigilant and to keep an eye on any elderly relatives or neighbours to ensure they are safe, and taking steps to reduce the risk of becoming victims of distraction burglary.
“Remind them to secure back doors and windows to their home before answering the front door. This is a timely reminder as the weather gets warmer and people are more inclined to leave doors open to cool down.
“And if they have any doubts about the legitimacy of people knocking on their doors, don’t let them in unless proof of identity can be confirmed.”