‘He preyed on people’s vulnerabilities and trusting nature’ – Stevenage man jailed for series of ‘deplorable’ crimes

Ricky Briars from Stevenage has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for stealing

Ricky Briars from Stevenage has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for stealing from vulnerable people in the town. - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage man who exploited people’s trusting nature and preyed on the vulnerable to steal hundreds in cash has been jailed – where the officer leading the case says he belongs.

Ricky Briars, whose address was given in court as Barleycroft, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to robbery, theft and burglary.

All three crimes – described by the investigating officer as ‘deplorable’ – took place in Stevenage over a two-day period in August.

The 32-year-old’s first victim was a 24-year-old man in Canterbury Way, who Briars approached on the afternoon of August 21 and asked him for money for a bus fare.

The man offered to give him some change, but Briars ripped the wallet from his hand and took his bank card – demanding his PIN number.

Briars told the victim he would beat him up and stab him unless he did so, and then forced him to a nearby cashpoint and attempted to withdraw money from the man’s account.

At this point the 24-year-old fell ill and collapsed, so Briars ran off with his wallet and two bags of shopping.

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Around 12 noon the following day, Briars approached a man aged in his late 80s outside sheltered accommodation in Highfield Court.

While the man was attempting to open the front door, Briars removed the victim’s wallet which was in his back pocket and contained £80 in cash.

A few minutes later, after emptying the contents of the victim’s wallet, Briars then knocked on a window of another property in the sheltered accommodation – claiming he had found a man’s wallet.

The elderly man inside agreed to let him in and, while looking at the wallet, Briars took £220 in cash from a work surface and made off.

After trawling through CCTV, an investigation led by Herts police’s specialist investigation team – Operation Manhunt – was able to link all three crimes.

Briars was subsequently identified and arrested a few days later, before being charged with robbery, theft from a person and burglary.

He was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty to all three offences the previous week.

Speaking afterwards, Det Con Jason Tinsey from Operation Manhunt – the unit set up to investigate distraction burglary, frauds and other crimes against the elderly – said: “Briars showed complete disregard for his victims. I believe he preyed on them because of their vulnerabilities and trusting nature.

“I am pleased with this outcome. His behaviour is deplorable and he will now spend a considerable period of time in prison – where he belongs.”