Jail for rogue trader who preyed on elderly residents in Cambridgeshire

A rogue trader who tricked an elderly resident into paying him hundreds of pounds for work he never completed - and stole cash from others - has been jailed.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 5:04 pm

Anthony Smith, 55, began his stealing spree on 2 June last year when he went to a property in Parson’s Drove, Wisbech.

He persuaded the victim, a man in his 60s, to pay him £600 in advance for gardening work at the property. However, Smith left without completing the work.

Four days later he targeted a man in his 80s from Witchford near Ely. The victim let Smith into his home to discuss some gardening work and paid him £20 out of a tin he kept cash in. Smith asked for a glass of water and, while the man was distracted, took a further £60 from the tin.

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Anthony Smith

Footage from a CCTV camera at a nearby property showed a red Land Rover drive away from the property. The same vehicle was later seen in a nearby village with Smith driving.

The Land Rover was later found near Smith’s home in Fen Road, Chatteris.

On 13 June, Smith approached a man in his 90s in Whittlesey, who was sitting outside the front of his house. Smith leaned over the man’s front wall and said he could repair it for £280. The victim gave him £200, but he insisted he needed the rest of the money up front. When the victim got his wallet out containing £80, Smith snatched it and said “that will do” before leaving and never returning.

A short while later Smith went to another home in Whittlesey where he spoke to a man in his 80s. He told the man he needed £20 as a contribution to fix his neighbour’s fence. The victim agreed and paid the money but again Smith left without doing the work.

Smith was linked to the crimes through CCTV enquires and forensic examination of the money tin. He was also picked out in an identity parade by one of the victims.

He went on to admit two counts of burglary, two of dishonestly making false representation and one of theft.

On Thursday (27 May) at Cambridge Crown Court he was jailed for five years.

DC Tom Hunt said: “Smith’s behaviour was absolutely disgusting. He intentionally targeted elderly or vulnerable people and tricked them into paying for work he clearly had absolutely no intention of completing.

“I’m pleased Smith has faced justice for his crimes and has been jailed.

“One of our main aims is to protect vulnerable people and we will continue to work tirelessly to do exactly that.”