A PROLIFIC burglar who deliberately targets elderly or vulnerable victims has been jailed for five years for his latest attempt.

Lee Dunn donned a Northumbrian Water high-visibility jacket to con his way into a house on Church Lane, Middlesbrough, in July last year pretending to check the quality of the water.

Unfortunately for the defendant the carer of the elderly man who lived at the house overheard Dunn talking to his wife and told him to get out of the house.

However, the determined sneak thief returned a few minutes later to try again but the carer refused to open the door for him, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said: "The carer asked the defendant to leave because she was suspicious of him. She asked him to leave the house and she locked the door behind him when he left.

"He rang the bell a few minutes later and asked if the water was running ok and she gave him the thumbs up as she didn't want to let him into the house."

The carer then went to a neighbours house and the defendant was filmed walking away from the house and throwing away the high-vis jacket.

She said police were able to identify Dunn from the phone footage.

Dunn's previous convictions included a number of burglaries, including one where he pretended to be a local authority worker checking boilers in people's houses.

In another offence, he befriended a pensioner pretending to be a window cleaner before stealing his bank card and pin number and withdrawing £600 from his account.

Dunn, of Stowe Street, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary.

Simon Walker, mitigating, told the court that his client had recently been diagnosed with mental health issues and had been forced out of his home when a group of people took over it.

Sentencing the defendant to five years in prison, Judge Howard Crowson said an element of planning went into the burglary and he regularly targeted aged victims.

"You got across the threshold because the victim believed you," he said. "Luckily, the victim's husband was being treated by a carer and she heard what was happening and she confronted you.

"You weren't put off, you suggested that she go and check the water upstairs, she was strong enough and she refused and asked you to leave."