‘Gutter’ conman jailed for preying on pensioners
A cruel thief with a history of conning vulnerable pensioners is back behind bars after an off-duty West Midlands Police officer spotted him trying to scam a 93-year-old man on his doorstep.
Scott Hibberts turned up at the man’s home in Shirley on 7 April demanding money for guttering work he falsely claimed to have carried out the previous day.
He talked his way inside the address but not before an off-duty cop – who’d overheard the conversation and feared for the man’s safety – called for uniformed police back-up.
Hibberts was arrested minutes later inside the address and subsequent enquiries linked him to similar bogus tradesman burglaries elsewhere in Shirley.
The 29-year-old stole £250 from the purse of a 96-year-old partially-sighted woman on 21 March; he returned to the address six days later but left empty handed after being challenged by a caring neighbour.
And on 1 April he swiped £40 and a gold ring from an 80-year-old man having posed as a customer for the mobility scooter he was selling.
West Midlands Police officers identified Hibberts from a distinctive baseball cap he wore to commit the offences, plus handwriting from guttering ‘price lists’ he left with victims.
He admitted the offences and on 9 May was jailed for 54 months at Birmingham Crown Court.
It’s not the first time Hibberts, of no fixed address, has been jailed for distraction burglaries against elderly residents.
In August 2017 he was jailed for stealing cash and a bank card from a 91-year-old Shirley man having again claimed to have cleared guttering.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Kate Fitzgerald from the High Harm & Vulnerability Team, said: “Hibberts is a callous thief who thinks nothing of taking pension money or savings from elderly people. He deliberately targets people he believes he can easily trick into falling for his lies and won’t challenge him.
“Thankfully an astute off-duty cop spotted him on the last victim’s doorstep, overheard the conversation and noticed the victim seemed pressurised, confused and nervous – and when Hibberts ducked inside the property he dialled 999.
“He was soon arrested and we managed to link him to other similar offences. Elderly residents in Solihull can feel safer with Hibberts behind bars.”
And DC Fitzgerald urged anyone who spots suspicious doorstep activity to contact the police: She added: “It’s vital people report offences or suspicious behaviour to us so that we can piece together a picture of offending patterns, potentially link offences and gather evidence.
“Distraction burglars can adopt many guises: a police officer, rat catcher, council employee or workman to name but a few. We’d urge anyone who has an elderly relative, neighbour or friend to pop round, check up on them, and ensure they are wary of the tactics employed by distraction burglars.
“Everyone can play their part: let’s spread the message and hopefully stop more people becoming victims.”