Conman jailed for distraction burglaries

A CONMAN who struck three times in less than an hour has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Martin McCarthy struck on September 1 last year, conning his victims by telling them they had problems with their water supply.

His first victim was an 89-year-old in the London Road area of Baldock at 12.20pm who was told that her water supply needed to be turned off. Nothing was stolen.

A short while later in the Baldock Road area of Letchworth GC, McCarthy claimed he was from the water board and told the 83-year-old victim that he needed to check the pressure in the kitchen. Again, nothing was stolen.

Between 12.45 and 1pm in the Stevenage Road area of Hitchin, the 91-year-old victim was told her water pressure needed checking and �40 was subsequently stolen.

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Officers from Operation Manhunt, Hertfordshire Constabulary’s dedicated team to preventing and detecting distraction burglaries, investigated the crimes.

DC Jill Green from Operation Manhunt said: “Claiming there are problems with victims’ water is the most common method used to trick victims into letting offenders into their homes.

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“They will often say there are problems with their water pressure or that there’s a water leak in their house or in the street. Mostly people do genuinely believe they are there to help so let the offenders into their homes.

“I am pleased the judge has acknowledged the seriousness of these crimes and recognises the devastating effect they have on their victims. I would urge anyone faced with a caller at their door, who they don’t recognise and aren’t expecting, not to open the door.

“Legitimate representatives from water companies will carry identification and won’t mind if you call their customer relations team to check their identification.”

McCarthy, 26, of Twin Oaks in Braintree, Essex was charged with conspiracy to steal.

He was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday for the three offences in North Herts and another in London. He pleaded guilty to them all. The judge said that the offences were unpleasant and were liable to cause particular distress on the victims.

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