A BARNSLEY man has been jailed after pleading guilty to a series of distraction burglaries in which he preyed on vulnerable victims - including two women in their 90s.

Karl Greenwood, 49, of Priory Road, Lundwood, was handed a seven-and-a-half year sentence after admitting burglary and fraud by false representation.

Over a six-week period in May and June this year, Greenwood posed as a gardener to con his way into the homes of his vulnerable victims before stealing cash and bank cards. He then used the contactless bank cards in local shops.

When visiting his first victim, a 92-year-old woman, Greenwood claimed he had left his mobile phone there on a previous visit. When the woman went to look for the phone, he stole £200 in cash and a bank card, which he then used a total of eight times.

Greenwood’s second victim was 93. Having posed as a gardener again, he followed the pensioner into her house and while she was in the kitchen getting him a drink of water, he took £200 from her purse.

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His final victim was a 65-year-old woman with disabilities. After using similar distraction tactics, Greenwood stole £80 in cash and the woman’s bank card. The card was then used in two shops nearby.

Detective Constable Steven Ramsbottom said: “Greenwood has repeatedly and shamelessly preyed on vulnerable members of the community and I’m pleased he’s now behind bars for a significant length of time.

“Incidents like this really do knock the confidence of victims, particularly the elderly. We will work as hard as we can to get suspects like Greenwood off the streets, but we need residents’ help.

“I’d urge people to remind elderly family members to be vigilant about who they let in and around their home. Take five minutes and have a quick chat with relatives about who has been visiting them recently - there might be someone who sounds suspicious or you feel could be taking advantage.”

Det Chf Insp Paul Murphy told the Chronicle that police in Barnsley are doing ‘all they can’ to combat burglaries following a summer of residents’ concerns being related to officers at crime meetings held across the borough.

“A burglary is one of the worst possible crimes for victims and I fully understand their worries,” he added.

“The reality is that people fear being burgled because it’s such an intrusive crime, but I want to reassure Barnsley residents that we’re monitoring trends, delivering bespoke operations and patrolling worst-hit locations throughout the day and night.

“It’s our job to allay fears and deliver an appropriate plan to protect those people, who are often vulnerable, from being targeted.”

Any information can be reported by calling 101, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.