A PROLIFIC burglar who stole from an elderly woman after pretending to be a tradesman has been jailed for seven years.

Stuart Smith posed as a builder and defrauded his 92-year-old victim before going on to steal her bank cards and cash from the pensioner’s account.

Police were alerted to a disturbance after receiving a report of a burglary taking place in Queens Road, Accrington, on March 26 of this year, in which a purse had been stolen from a woman.

Following an investigation, it was discovered that the victim had been approached in her home by the man on March 13, who said she needed work carrying out of her roof.

The man, later identified as Smith, took several payments from the woman and later withdrew more cash from her account after stealing her handbag.

Smith, 47, of Whalley Road, Accrington, was charged with burglary and fraud and was convicted at Burnley Crown Court last week. He was jailed for six years for the burglary and 12 months consecutive for the fraud.

Detective Sgt Phil McGauley from the East Target Team said: “Smith is a prolific burglar, who identifies addresses where vulnerable people live before he goes on to steal from them.

“The impact on his victim was dreadful to see, so I am pleased with the outcome of this investigation, and would like to thank the jury for their deliberations on the evidence."

Smith was previously jailed for nine years after burgling the home of a 77-year-old widow before robbing her in the street outside her home.

On that occasion, Smith forced his way into his victim’s Rawtenstall home with a ‘cock and bull’ story about her house being at risk of fire.

But when the woman left her home to get help after realising Smith was a crook, she was robbed of her handbag by the thief who had followed her down the street.

On that occasion, in 2004, a judge describe Smith’s behaviour as ‘despicable’ before jailing him for nine years.

Speaking about Smith’s most recent crime, Sgt McGauley added: “We welcome this sentence as it reflects the gravity of Smith’s offending and the harm that he causes to the local community. This result should send a message to others committing these type of offences that we will come after you and do everything we can to stop you targeting the vulnerable people in our communities.

“My team are extremely dedicated to targeting burglars and are always looking at new ways to identify offenders.”