Burglar pretending to be police officer stole pensioner's bank card to buy food and alcohol

Credit: Sussex Police

A man who pretended to be a police officer so he could steal an elderly woman's bank card to make numerous purchases has been jailed for four years.

James Beaney, of Gravits Lane, Bognor Regis was linked to at least two distraction burglaries by police.

The 45-year-old called at an 89-year-old victim's home at 8pm on 16 May, claiming to be a plain-clothed police officer, and insisted on searching the property to ensure the man was not the victim of a recent burglary. In this incident nothing was stolen.

But the same time the following night he called on a 92-year-old woman in Pagham - again pretending to be from the police. He made an excuse to get into the property before stealing her wallet containing cash and a bank card.

The card was then used to buy food and alcohol from stores in the nearby area on at least two occasions after the burglary. Beaney was captured on CCTV.

Detective Constable Gaye Moore, of Bognor Regis Investigations, said: “Beaney preyed on vulnerable elderly residents and gave a false account – even going as far as to claim officers did not carry identification while undercover – in order to enter their homes and steal their valuables.

“Thanks to the accounts provided by the victims and some witnesses, we were able to swiftly identify and locate Beaney, and link him to these offences. Now justice has been served.

“I’d like to remind residents to remain vigilant and challenge anyone who calls at your address without ID, especially if they are unexpected. No professional will mind waiting outside whilst you make a call to confirm their identity, and police officers will always show their warrant card.”

Detectives are continuing to investigate a number of other distraction burglaries in the area from 19 March to 24 April, during which time items including cash and jewellery were stolen.