Distraction burglar who repeatedly targeted elderly jailed

A prolific distraction burglar who targeted pensioners in areas including Tonbridge and Aylesford has been sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

Ambrose Treeby repeatedly tricked his way into the homes of vulnerable victims, including a woman aged in her 90s, before stealing money from them.

Appearing for sentencing at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 18 January, Judge David Griffith-Jones described his offences as ‘heartless’, adding that Treeby ‘selected victims because of their isolation and vulnerability through age and in some cases condition’.

Treeby, aged 33 and formerly of Queen Street, Paddock Wood had previously pleaded guilty to four burglaries and one attempted burglary. Two further charges, of fraud and an attempted burglary were left on file.

On 1 September 2016 he stole £500 after knocking on the door of a 92-year-old woman living in Woodlands Road, Aylesford. Treeby claimed to be from a local housing association and told the victim she had a fault with her telephone. He distracted the victim and after searching rooms, found where she kept some money. He took the cash and left.

He targeted the same victim again on 7 September 2016. This time Treeby claimed he needed to remove a fridge. After asking her to make him a hot drink he suddenly left. The victim discovered £300 missing.

An 89-year-old woman who lived on her own in Barden Road, Tonbridge was also targeted twice. Treeby knocked on her door on 17 August 2016 and told her he would take a mattress away which was in her garden, for £40. The victim wanted him gone and handed over the money. Treeby left without moving the mattress.

He visited again on 9 September, this time claiming to work for the local council. He told the victim they had received complaints from residents about rats in her garden and was there to clear them. Treeby told her to sign a blank cheque and assured her he would fill out the amount and who it was payable to. Police were alerted and the cheque was stopped.

Other victims reported being targeted in Tenterden, as well as in Rye, Sussex where posing as a council worker Treeby knocked on the door of someone he had previously targeted in 2009. The victim recognised him and refused to let him in their home.

He was arrested on 21 September 2016. An investigation by Kent Police included evidence from a witness who saw him acting suspiciously outside the address in Woodlands Road, Aylesford. The witness noted the registration of his vehicle and later picked him out of an identification parade. CCTV images also showed him withdrawing cash with a stolen card.

Detective Sergeant Suzie Basford said:

‘Ambrose Treeby is a despicable and callous individual who has shown no regard whatsoever for the huge distress and anxiety he has caused to his many victims. He has deliberately targeted the frail and vulnerable; tricking his way into their homes before stealing any money he could get his hands on. The consequences of his actions left his victims living in real fear, one of whom has sadly now passed away. I hope the fact he is now behind bars and unable to target further victims, will at least provide some reassurance to all those affected by Treeby’s crimes.’

 

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