Faces of top 10 'most wanted' published

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The faces of Britain's 10 most wanted alleged doorstep criminals were published today in a bid to bring them to justice.

Police want to trace nine men and a woman suspected of preying on elderly and vulnerable people in their homes.



Investigators said the number of so-called distraction burglaries, in which criminals pretend to be workmen or officials, often soars in February and March.



They brought together a list of suspects who include offenders claiming to be water board officials, plumbers and even a police officer.



Among those on the list are Patrick Gilheaney who has allegedly stolen from pensioners in Suffolk, Norfolk, Staffordshire, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire.



Another wanted man, John Nolan, 22, is being hunted over the violent robbery of a 72-year-old woman who was attacked at her Belfast home.



Derbyshire Police want to trace an unidentified man who attempted to rob an elderly man after pretending to be a police officer, checking for burglaries.



The most wanted list was brought together by the Operation Liberal specialist police unit that monitors distraction burglaries and distributed by charity Crimestoppers.



It echoes other successful publicity drives targeting violent criminals, suspects thought to have fled to Spain and missing paedophiles.



Derbyshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Peter Goodman said the cold weather led to reports of burglars using snow and ice as excuses to try to prey on residents.



He said: "Distraction burglars trick their way into the homes of the elderly and vulnerable, generally by pretending to be an official of some kind or asking for assistance.



"Operation Liberal works together with all UK police forces to target and bring to justice those individuals who prey on the vulnerable in society.



"Our message is - if you're not sure who is calling, then don't open the door, check their identity first.



"There have been many recent examples of vigilant members of the public reporting suspicious behaviour to the police which has led to a number of distraction burglars being arrested. We want this to continue.



"Should anyone have information about someone they believe is carrying out these terrible crimes please call police or if you prefer, phone Crimestoppers, who will treat your call anonymously."



Dame Vera Lynn, of Sussex Crimestoppers branch, said: "As someone who has been a victim of burglary several times, I can't reinforce enough how frightening it is.



"Worse than having your possessions taken, is having your confidence stolen as well. A home is where everyone should feel safe and relaxed, not anxious and worried at what might happen.



"We must not let these despicable criminals get away with traumatising people and stealing treasured possessions."



Lord Ashcroft, of Crimestoppers, said distraction burglars are "hideous individuals" who often take life-long treasured possessions and money from elderly people.



He said: "Some victims suffer a decline in health and even die as a result of the trauma caused by these criminals."



* To view the 10 most wanted individuals visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org/wanted. To pass information to police call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss