1. ITV Report

Fake coppers jailed in GMP operation

Gang member Paul Thomas has been jailed for nine years Photo: GMP

A gang of thieves who masqueraded as police officers to commit a series of robberies have been unmasked thanks to an operation lead by Greater Manchester Police. The men targeted homeowners across Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire, dressing themselves in stab vests and carrying stolen ID badges, handcuffs and radios to present a veneer of authenticity. They duped innocent householders, including vulnerable and elderly residents, into believing they were genuine police officers so they could carry out a string of raids However, the gang have now been brought to justice thanks to officers from GMP's Serious and Organised Crime Group. Paul James Thomas (born 13/07/1977), of Albert Avenue, Urmston, Anjan Mukhtar Ahmed (born 08/10/967), of Red Doles Road, Fartown, Huddersfield, and Kelvin Daniel Raymond (born 03/11/1983), of Highfield Road, Stretford, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob at an earlier hearing. Today, 19 April 2013, they were sentenced at Manchester Crown Court. Thomas was jailed for nine years, Ahmed for nine years plus a further 58 weeks for two unrelated offences making 10 years and six weeks in total and Raymond for nine years. Their modus operandi was to target unsuspecting residents by claiming they had search warrants. Once inside, they would handcuff the victims, giving them free reign to search the homes and steal property. The uniforms they were wearing, including the radios, ID cards and handcuffs, were either genuine having been stolen from Humberside Police officers, or were made up using goods widely available from shops. However, thanks to a detailed investigation by officers which included analysis of telephony, forensic recoveries, DNA matches and a pro-active police operation the identity of the gang was revealed. Detective Constable Roy Storey said: "These men went to meticulous lengths to fool people into thinking they were genuine police officers. They presented a very convincing façade of respectability which allowed them to commit a serious of violent robberies. "We believe they used a mixture of stolen police badges and equipment, along with the sort of goods that can be bought from high street stores, to disguise themselves and their appearance was so genuine the unsuspecting victims had no reason to doubt them. "However, behind that clever veneer these offenders are just like every other robber - cowardly and underhand. They duped innocent people whom they then attacked and stole from. So make no mistake, the streets of Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire are now much safer with these persistent criminals locked up, and that is testament to the hard work of the officers who worked tirelessly to unmask these criminals. "What was particularly galling about these crimes is that the offenders preyed upon the trust people put in the police. At the heart of successful policing is the relationship we have with our communities and every day, officers are out there knocking on doors, talking to people and building up that trust so we can serve our communities better and fight crime. "These offenders used that to their advantage and left a lot of people feeling very frightened, so I would like to personally say to those people who were targeted: 'The real police will always protect you and these bogus cops are now behind bars.' "No blame can ever be attached to the people who were targeted such was the level of detail the offenders stooped to in order to appear genuine. But there are a number of steps homeowners can follow if someone knocks on their door claiming to be a police officer to ensure they do not fall victim to this sort of scam. "Genuine police officers do not enter people's homes without permission and always carry a warrant card to prove their identity. The card has a photo of the officer, the officer's name and also their collar number. It also carries the GMP logo and the signature of the Chief Constable. If a member of the public is uncertain about the validity of the identification they should contact police and verify the officer's collar number." SUMMARY OF INCIDENTS 26/04/12 - Attempted robbery, Buxton Road, Disley, Stockport Two men wearing plain clothes with body armour and carrying handcuffs, Humberside Police warrant cards, a clipboard and walkie-talkie radios identified themselves as police officers. They asked about the whereabouts of another man and asked to use the occupant's mobile phone to call him. This man believed he was speaking to genuine officers so revealed where he was. The two bogus officers then went to his address and again tried to gain entry by claiming they were police. However, they left when the man informed them the real police had been called. 26/04/12- Robbery at Springdale Street, Thornton Lodge, Huddersfield Three bogus police officers, again dressed in plain clothes but wearing a stab vest complete with police logo, handcuffs and radio, handcuffed the occupant of the home before stealing cash and thousands of pounds worth of jewellery. 17/05/12 ? Robbery at Hawthorne House, Firs Lane, Leigh, 9.30pm Two men dressed as police told the homeowner they had intelligence about stolen property and cannabis at the address. They then placed him in handcuffs. Believing they were genuine officers, he handed over a large sum of cash. 8/6/12 - Robbery - Dacre Avenue, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, 10.40pm Three men claiming to be police officers handcuffed two of the occupants and forced them to the floor, allowing them to ransack the property and steal a car, cash and mobile phones. 3/7/12 - Robbery - Boggart Lane, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax 4.35pm Three men wearing police stab vests, latex gloves, handcuffs, warrant cards and police radios told the occupant they were from Humberside Police and had a search warrant, there to look for money. Both the occupants were again handcuffed. Among the property the offenders stole were legitimately-owned firearms along with 1,200 rounds of ammunition. The suspects were arrested and searches of their homes recovered a Humberside Police warrant card, a stab vest and a handcuff key.