Man charged with string of distraction burglaries

A 41-year-old motorcyclist from Bicester died in a collision in Gloucestershire on Saturday.
A 41-year-old motorcyclist from Bicester died in a collision in Gloucestershire on Saturday.
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A 23-year-old man has been charged with a catalogue of 24 distraction burglaries affecting elderly victims after he was first arrested following a Crimewatch appeal.

Thomas Hannifin, of no fixed address, was arrested on March 10 by Operation Manhunt officers for the offences including a burglary in Kings Langley in October last year.

Herts Police’s Operation Manhunt is dedicated to investigating crimes that affect the elderly.

The arrest came after police appeared on Crimewatch in March appealing for information about a string of 35 distraction burglaries which happened across the south east between August and October last year.

The investigation spanned Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey and London.

Victims were mainly aged in their 80s and 90s, with one aged 94.

In the vast majority of cases, the offenders are alleged to have created a false reason to gain entry to the property to steal, such as investigating a burst pipe, or repairing a water leak.

Hannifin was initially charged with three burglaries which occurred in Barnet, Bramshott and Slough and remanded into custody.

On Monday, June 22 he was charged with a further 28 burglaries – of which 24 are distraction burglaries – and one robbery.

He is next due to appear at St Albans Crown Court on Wednesday, July 1.