Almost 12 months since the launch of Operation Wolf in Preston, an ongoing campaign targeting offenders who prey on vulnerable people, more than 45 victims have been identified.Advertisement
The campaign, run by Preston Neighbourhood Team, aims to highlight the signs to potential victims in what to look for to avoid them becoming a target, whilst bringing offenders to justice.
The neighbourhood team works closely with Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council Adult Safeguarding teams and local housing associations to tackle the issue of elderly men being exploited by a group of women in Preston, after it was reported that these people were persistently befriending older vulnerable men in order to obtain money from them.
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The victims are usually isolated and often have learning difficulties or dementia, making them more vulnerable and susceptible to being groomed. However criminal offences can be difficult to prove as evidence needs to be gathered over a long period of time.
One such case is of Stacey Cummings, 36 of Elizabeth Street Preston, who received a two-year civil injunction until 17 August 2022, banning her from entering the area around Molyneux Court and St Paul’s Court, Preston.
In addition to this she was also found guilty in December 2020 of fraud by false representation having befriended a 98-year-old man from Penwortham, over a succession of months and regularly taken him to cash machines to withdraw £1500.
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Stacey received a custodial sentence of two years and nine months.
PC Karen Graham said: “Offenders ingratiate themselves into an individual’s life convincing them they are their friends and only helping them while all along benefiting from the relationship.
“As the victims do not see the offenders for what they are, this can also prove difficult for investigating officers and can take months of support for the victim to gain their trust and co-operation.
“This is something we take extremely seriously and we will continue to pursue existing and new offenders. It is an area which is massively under reported, however the operation has raised awareness and enabled more people to feel confident in coming forward and we would encourage people to continue to come forward regardless of how small it might seem.”
The latest crime stats in your area can be seen below
Since Operation Wolf started there have been:
Lancashire Constabulary is committed to helping the most vulnerable members of our community and would ask anyone with any concerns to report via firstname.lastname@example.org, via the website or call 101 with any information.
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