JAILED: Seven years for the burglar who conned his way across the Fens
A DISTRACTION burglar who preyed on the elderly - stealing cash and jewellery from 40 different victims - has been jailed for more than seven years.
Luke Wall, 29, conned his way into the homes of vulnerable people across Norfolk and Fenland claiming to be from the water board. He began reoffending just three days after being released from prison.
In a three-week binge of burglary, Wall stole from around 40 properties by tricking victims into thinking they had an urgent problem with their water.
He would get householders to turn on taps while he searched the property for leaks when he was really hunting for valuable belongings.
In one offence, Wall conned his way into the home of a 94-year-old woman in Theobald Road, Norwich, claiming he needed to check the water pipes because the washing machine in her neighbour’s house was overflowing.
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He went into the kitchen and asked the victim to sit down while he checked taps and piping. Wall kept his partially-sighted victim in conversation while he searched the property stealing �50 from her purse and a gold wedding ring. After becoming suspicious the woman called her neighbour who dialled 999.
Crime scene investigators examined the property and forensic evidence was found at the address. This resulted in a match for Wall who became the prime suspect in a series of distraction burglaries being investigated by Norfolk Constabulary’s Operation RADAR team.
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Officers soon linked this incident to others which had happened around the county and across Fenland.
During the investigation officers took the unusual step of going public with the identity of the main suspect – issuing his name and photograph to the local media on the March 3.
As a result of media coverage Wall fled the county and two months later handed himself in to police in Anglesey and was brought to Norfolk for questioning.
Wall, of no fixed abode, appeared for sentencing at Norwich Crown Court today after pleading guilty to two counts of burglary at Theobald Road in Norwich and The Links in Flempton, Suffolk in February.
The court also took 37 similar offences into consideration which took place across Norfolk and Fenland. He was sentenced to a total of seven-and-a-half years imprisonment.
Detective Sergeant Pete Jessop, the lead from Operation RADAR which specialises in doorstep crime, said he was pleased with the outcome and hoped it offered reassurance to Wall’s victims.
He said: “We identified the series very quickly and as the investigation progressed it was clear to see a pattern between incidents across the county and that they were more than likely being committed by the same person.
“This unusually included distraction burglaries and regular house burglaries, sometimes in the same street on the same night.
“It was also clear that as time went on the incidents were becoming more serious with the suspect targeting increasingly vulnerable victims.
“While we knew Wall was responsible we were unable to track him down and my main concern at that stage was to bring an abrupt halt to the series of burglaries and prevent anyone else suffering at the hands of this man.
“We were under no illusion this series of burglaries needed to be stopped and the coverage in the local media did just that and they stopped the day Wall’s photograph was published on the front page of the Evening News on March 3.”
Officers established Wall had come to Norfolk after being released from HMP Coldingly in Surrey on February 3 after serving a five year sentence for distraction burglaries.
DS Jessop said: “Wall began reoffending just three days after being released from prison and the people he targeted were those who were most vulnerable.
“This sentence reflects that and I hope his victims will be able to find some comfort knowing the person responsible is back behind bars.”