A MAN who impersonated a police officer in order to enter elderly people’s homes and rob them has been jailed.

Detectives investigating a series of distraction burglaries in Bognor were able to link James Beaney, 45, of Gravits Lane, Bognor, to at least two of them.

About 8pm on May 16, he attended the address of an 89-year-old man in the town. 

He claimed 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.

The Argus: James BeaneyJames Beaney

Beaney left the property after stealing several items, and was later recognised during an identification procedure.  

Around the same time the following evening, a 92-year-old woman answered her door in Pagham to a man matching the same description as Beaney.

Again, he impersonated a police officer and gave a false account in order to enter the address. 

Whilst the victim was distracted, he stole her wallet containing cash and a bank card.

Enquiries revealed the stolen card had been used to purchase items including food and alcohol from stores in the nearby area on at least two occasions after the burglary, and CCTV showed Beaney was responsible.

He was arrested and charged with burglary, burglary with intent to steal, and two counts of dishonestly making a false representation to make gain for himself or cause loss to another.

Beaney was remanded in custody to appear before Portsmouth Crown Court on June 17, where he pleaded guilty to all offences. He was sentenced to a total of four years’ imprisonment.

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 March 19 to April 24, during which time items including cash and jewellery were stolen.

Anyone with any information about these incidents is urged to report it online or call 101, quoting reference 47220088869.