TWO bogus callers who stole cash and jewellery from older residents across North Yorkshire have been snared by DNA on their flat caps.

The trail of misery Shane Richards and Carl Riddiough brought to victims around the county finally came to an end when police linked their DNA from two flat caps found inside a vehicle that had been reported to police as suspicious.

Shane Richards and Carl Riddiough have now been jailed at York Crown Court.

The investigation into their offending was led by the Op Gauntlet Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team, made up of North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Trading Standards and Social Services.

The team was created to focus on the protection of vulnerable people who have been exploited financially, as well as door-step offenders such as bogus callers and distraction burglars.

They investigated a series of burglaries that took place across North Yorkshire between August 1 and 3 in areas including Great Ayton, Boroughbridge and Scagglethorpe in Ryedale.

Some of the victims reported that two men had knocked on the door and claimed that their ball had been kicked into the back garden. When the homeowners took one of the men to get the ball, the other would search the house and steal property. Other burglaries involved patio doors being smashed.

Police at the time warned North Yorkshire residents to be on the lookout for similar offences, and report any suspicious activity.

The suspects were said to be wearing flat caps, and a vigilant witness spotted two men in caps behaving suspiciously in a vehicle.

The vehicle was later located by North Yorkshire Police, and investigators were able to link the DNA of two men to two flat caps found inside.

Glass experts also analysed the caps, and found samples of glass from one of the burglary scenes in both of them. Mobile phone data and fingerprints also provided evidence for the case.

Two men were arrested in connection with the investigation – Shane Richards, 30, and Carl Riddiough, 30, both from the Doncaster area.

At York Crown Court on Wednesday 4 July, Richards pleaded guilty to five distraction burglaries, in Filey, Scagglethorpe, Boroughbridge, Scarborough and Great Ayton. He also pleaded guilty to a burglary in Whitby where a patio window was smashed.

He was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the North Yorkshire offences, as well as three years’ concurrent imprisonment for a number of offences committed in the Lincolnshire area.

Riddiough pleaded guilty to the Whitby burglary. He was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

DC Sam Harding, of the Op Gauntlet Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team, said: “This was a complex investigation in which each agency played a key role. Richards’ and Riddiough’s offending left their victims extremely distressed, and it is right that they are both now behind bars.

“Burglars often target the most vulnerable people in our communities, tricking or breaking their way into homes and stealing sentimental or valuable property. These awful crimes can have a huge impact on the victims and their families.

“Residents can, however, be reassured that a number of agencies are working together to tackle this type of crime in North Yorkshire, and bring offenders to justice. We also want to encourage people – particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable – to be vigilant against this type of crime. Do not let anyone into your home if you are not certain who they are. If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.

“Anyone who thinks they might have been a victim of distraction burglary, or who has strangers at their door acting suspiciously, should report it to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”