A thief who travelled the east coast of Scotland deliberately targeting elderly and vulnerable victims before sneaking into their homes to steal has been jailed for almost three years.
Paul Nicoll targeted victims up to the age of 83 in Arbroath, Dundee, Perth and Auchterarder in a four-month spree.
In one incident Dundee Sheriff Court heard he helped an elderly woman into her house with her shopping - before making off with cash.
Fiscal depute Saima Rasheed described a series of incidents that started two days before Christmas last year in Arbroath, where he stole £200 from the home of a man.
He then started again in February, stealing £40 from a 78-year-old woman in Arbroath, before targeting a 70-year-old woman in the town the following day - being found in her home before he could steal anything.
Nicoll’s spree escalated in April when he was found in the home of a 68-year-old woman in Auchterarder, Perthshire, and an 80-year-old woman in Perth on the same day.
A week later he was found in a 68-year-old woman’s home in Dundee, then on April 18 he carried out his biggest theft - stealing £560 from an 81-year-old woman in the city.
On April 24 he was found in a 69-year-old woman’s home, then the following day in the property of an 83-year-old woman, his oldest victim.
On April 27 he stole £145 from a 61-year-old woman in Dundee, before stealing £380 from another 83-year-old, a man living in the Charleston area of Dundee.
The following day he was arrested and charged with the string of incidents.
Nicoll, 45, a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to a total of 11 charges of theft and being found in dwelling houses without lawful authority whereby it may be inferred he was there to steal.
Defence solicitor David Duncan said: “He accepts there is no realistic sentence other than imprisonment.
“I’m not asked to ask for anything other than that.
“He knows he has a debt to pay to society.”
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael jailed Nicoll for a total of 35 months.
He said: “You accept a custodial sentence is inevitable here. You are correct.
“It seems you deliberately targeted the houses of elderly and vulnerable people.
“The ages of the victims range up to 83.
“You preyed on these people.”