A GREEDY robber pretended to be a carer for vulnerable elderly victims in order to steal from them.

Gareth Cooper lied about having a dying daughter to get sympathy before he asked to borrow cash.

He even pretended to be a police officer then forced one victim against the wall before taking their coat and wallet.

The unemployed 38-year-old also took advantage of a fourth victim, taking £400 from her for a taxi and stealing a safe containing £1,000.

At Lewes Crown Court Cooper admitted robbery, four burglaries, and a theft charge. He was jailed for six years.

Police said he was “greedy” and had “systematically targeted the vulnerable and elderly”.

The Argus:

The court was told that Cooper’s crime spree started in April 2019, when he targeted victims with fake sob stories in their own homes.

On April 21 he was at the home of a vulnerable man who needed regular visits from carers. Cooper claimed to be a substitute who was there to do the man’s shopping.

The man handed over cash but became suspicious when Cooper hadn’t returned with the shopping and informed his real carer, who then called the police.

Cooper later returned and asked for more money to cover the cost of shopping and gave the man a stolen bank card as “proof” he would return.

But when he did return, the man refused to open the door and called the police.

CCTV of the incident allowed detectives to identify him. The bank card was found to have been from a second victim who reported it missing on April 22 and said he had been visited by Cooper a number of times.

Cooper had said his daughter was dying at the Conquest Hospital, the court heard.

The man trusted Cooper and handed over some cash. Cooper returned the next day and gave the man back his money but continued to visit him over the next couple of days, persuading him to hand over a tablet computer.

Later the man found his phone and bank card were stolen.

The Argus:

When Cooper tried to visit him again, Cooper claimed his daughter had died from a bleed on the brain.

Despite being arrested and interviewed, he carried out more thefts while on bail.

On June 12, he went to visit a man in his flat in the early hours of the morning, claiming to be from the police.

He forced the man up against a wall before stealing a coat and a wallet with a bank card in it.

On June 21, police received a call saying Cooper had gone to the flat of a fourth victim and removed a safe containing more than £1,000.

The elderly woman told police he was the same man who had previously taken advantage of her vulnerabilities to take £400 from her for a taxi.

Cooper, of Cloudesley Road, St Leonards, was identified by all four victims.

Temporary Detective Sergeant Paul Elrick said: “Cooper cynically and systematically targeted the vulnerable for his own greedy benefit, making up stories like his daughter being gravely ill in hospital in order to earn trust of his victims.

“I would like to thank all of Cooper’s victims for providing evidence that has allowed him to be held accountable for his crimes, and for ensuring he is taken off the streets.”