A burglar who was branded a “menace to society” by targeting elderly people across Waveney has been ordered to pay back more than £22,000 from the proceeds of his crimes.

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Stephen Friend, 35, was jailed for six months in September after he admitted a series of burglaries and distraction burglaries in Lowestoft, Beccles and Southwold.

Many of his victims were vulnerable and some were in their 80s and 90s.

Last Friday Friend, formerly of Normanston Drive, Lowestoft, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation hearing.

The court issued a order confiscating £22,449.21, with some of the money being handed back to his many victims.

If Friend does not pay the full amount in six months he will face a new prison sentence.

Andy Gould, of Suffolk police’s financial investigation unit said; “The order made by the court against Stephen Friend will ensure that a man who has set out to target and prey upon the elderly and most vulnerable members of our society will not benefit from these despicable crimes, and furthermore he will be forced to pay back those that have fallen victim to him.

“Once more Suffolk police have used the Proceeds of Crime Act to target those who commit crime in the county, identify their assets and ensure they cannot enjoy the trappings of their unlawful activities.”

Friend was jailed in September after he admitted four offences of burglary and asked for 15 similar offences to be taken into consideration.

The offences included breaking into a house in Denmark Street, Lowestoft in 2007 and stealing a handbag and other items worth £160, stealing £70 from a 97-year-old partially sighted woman in Ballygate, Beccles, in 2009, burgling a 94-year-old woman in Fieldstile, Southwold in April 2010 and taking £1,640 of jewellery from a house in Oulton Road North, Lowestoft while he worked there as a gardener between September and November 2010.

Friend had admitted the offences after he was jailed in March 2011 for 27 months for burglary.

After his conviction for those offences other victims came forward after seeing his photograph in newspaper reports.

He then took police officers on a tour of Waveney pointing out the houses he had burgled.

Det Sgt Simon Bridgland, of Waveney CID, who oversaw the burglary investigation into Friend, said; “We are very pleased with the court’s judgement which re-emphasises that even after conviction police will continue to pursue offenders to reclaim assets gained through their criminal activity.

“We’re also pleased that some financial compensation has been awarded to his victims, which we hope will help them in some small way as they come to terms with his actions.

“We will continue to target those who commit burglaries and this case shows that the penalty for carrying out these crimes can be a substantial financial loss as well as a prison sentence.”

When Friend was jailed for six years in September at Ipswich Crown, Recorder John Gallagher told him: “You are a menace to local society.

“You showed no sympathy or respect for age and you showed no feelings for the people you burgled.”

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