A PROLIFIC distraction burglar who targeted homes across Cheshire was jailed for two years at Chester Crown Court.
Leon Lavelle, aged 18, of Fford Las in Rhyl, pleaded guilty to the burglaries where he distracted elderly residents while he and his accomplices stole from their homes.
On February 5 this year, Lavelle arrived at Mr and Mrs Southwell’s home on Kendall Road in Neston and knocked on the door.
Prosecuting Marie Masselis said: “Lavelle told them he was from the water board. Mr and Mrs Southwell took it on trust that he was.
“He indicated he was looking for the stop tap and asked where it was located. Lavelle said it was probably in the bathroom and made his way upstairs.
“Mr Southwell tried to follow but by the time he had got upstairs he saw Lavelle coming out of his wife’s bedroom.”
Lavelle then left without saying any more. Afterwards Mr Southwell discovered his wife’s diamond ring had gone missing.
Three weeks later Lavelle targeted a home on Faddley Bank in Nantwich where he asked the occupant if he could turn the water off. Brian Blakemore, who answered the door, asked Lavelle for ID. But Lavelle said he had left it in his vehicle which was a long walk down the road.
Miss Masselis said: “Mr Blakemore had left the defendant alone for no more than five minutes in his home. When Lavelle left he noticed the living room curtains were closed, and later that a number of items were missing.”
The amount stolen totalled £490.
The court heard that just a week later Lavelle targeted the home of Mr and Mrs Booth, who are both in their 80s, at Pearl Lane in Vicars Cross.
When Mr Booth let Lavelle into his home, he was sure he had shut the door, but soon discovered it had actually been left open.
Miss Masselis said: “Mr and Mrs Booth began asking Lavelle questions about the water and became suspicious of his behaviour.
“Lavelle started walking towards the front door to leave, as he did this it became apparent there were two others who had come into the house.”
Two porcelain figurines had been stolen from their living room and two others had been placed in plastic bags ready to steal.
The men were spotted getting into a blue BMW by a neighbour of Mr and Mrs Booth. She took down the registration number of the vehicle. Police discovered the blue BMW had been stolen from Flint back in February but police were able to track Lavelle down.
Judge Nicholas Woodward sentenced Lavelle to two years in prison for the burglaries, with concurrent sentences of one month for taking a vehicle without consent and another month for resisting arrest.