Distraction Burglar In Houghton Regis Jailed for Burglary

  • A distraction burglar has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment after targeting elderly residents, whilst posing as a police officer or a tradesman, in Houghton Regis last year.

Martin Wickens, 28, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to four burglaries at Luton Crown Court on Thursday (22 April), and was sentenced to four years in prison.

A further six offences were also taken into consideration prior to him being sentenced.

At around 7.30pm on 11 November, Wickens targeted the home of a woman in her 80s and told her he was an officer investigating suspicious circumstances in local back gardens.

The victim allowed him into her home where he stole three purses, £90 in cash and her door keys before leaving the property.

On 14 November, at around 7pm, he employed the same tactic to target a man in his 80s and stole the victim’s bank car, which was then used to purchase cigarettes at a local store.

In the afternoon of 13 November, he called at the home of a woman in her 90s, this time claiming to be looking for a lost ball from a garden backing onto that of the victim.  She allowed him into her home, and he stole her handbag.

On the morning of the 15 November, he called at the home of a woman in her 70s, and told her that he was a plumber and needed access to her sink and water supply, due to flooding in nearby properties.

He walked into the house uninvited and proceeded to open the cupboard under the sink, instructing the victim to remove the contents so he could get better access to the plumbing, and whilst she did so, he looked around her home for items to steal.

Wickens was captured following extensive work from officers, including several pieces of CCTV footage near to the scenes, and was identified by a debit card in his possession, stolen from the burglary on 14 November.

Detective Constable Jason Wheeler, from Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated burglary unit, Operation Maze, who led the investigation, said: “Wickens targeted vulnerable trusting victims, and gained access to their homes under false pretences.

“He tricked his way in and stole items using ruses to execute pre-planned the offences and I am glad that we were able to identify him, obtain the evidence and place him before the courts.

“I hope that this sentence will give him time to reflect on his actions and get the support needed to help him turn his life around.

“We continue to crack down on this despicable type of crime in our county, and we will do all we can to bring offenders to justice.”

To report a burglary, please call 101. If a crime is in progress, or you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

If you have been affected by crime you can contact Signpost for free and confidential support, whether the crime has been reported to the police or not. For further information or to get in contact, visit signpostforbedfordshire

  • If you have an unexpected knock on the door never open it to strangers, consider installing a door chain and always keep it on
  • If unsure of the visitor’s identity always ask for their ID first and telephone the company they are purporting to be from, and use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider
  • Discuss any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader
  • Check whether traders are members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme or the Government Trust Mark scheme
  • Don’t agree to any work or sign anything on the spot. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out
  • Never pay cash up front and never go to the bank or cash point with a trader
  • If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999