80-year-old charged over white goods raid on house

Today's criminals are more likely to steal smaller goods such as laptops. Picture: Toby Williams

Today's criminals are more likely to steal smaller goods such as laptops. Picture: Toby Williams

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AN 80-YEAR-OLD man believed to be Scotland’s oldest burglar has been caught by police.

The wrinkly raider was nabbed after allegedly stealing “white goods” from a house.

Stunned officers were called to Marjoribanks Street, in Bathgate, West Lothian, after reports the home had been raided of property worth £400.

Officers were shocked when inquiries later that day led them to the 80-year-old, who was arrested and charged. The stolen property was recovered and the pensioner is set to appear in court.

Veteran officers said they could not recall such an elderly burglar while the theft of white goods – usually items such as washing machines and fridges – was described as “very unusual” when more portable merchandise is favoured by the current generation of burglars.

The pensioner is among nine alleged housebreakers caught in West Lothian by officers working on a Police Scotland crackdown during the last week.

A former senior officer said: “To have an 80-year-old arrested is very unusual, perhaps unique. For acquisitive crime, offending typically peaks in the 30s, then they fade off the radar as they get older.

“You might see an 80-year-old arrested for sex offences, for example, but not housebreaking.

“It’s a young man’s game requiring physical fitness. If I was investigating such a case, I’d be asking if there were mental health issues there.”

The officer added: “Stealing white goods is very unusual. Criminals now want jewellery or iPads, not fridges and washing machines which have low resale value and are difficult to steal.”

Age Scotland was stunned by the age of the crook.

A spokesman said: “Age Scotland doesn’t condone crime, and being older doesn’t in itself make someone more or less virtuous. We do know that around one in six pensioners is in poverty, that the rising cost of fuel and food is making this worse, and that contrary to popular perceptions some older people are being adversely affected by welfare reform.

“Rather than resort to crime, older people who feel unable to cope financially should seek advice from services such as Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90.”

Chief Inspector Kevin Kerr, Local Area Commander for West Lothian, welcomed the arrests. He said: “Housebreaking in West Lothian will not be tolerated.”

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com