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30th September 2010

MARK RHODES WANTED AFTER ESCAPING FROM PRISON

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Police officers are searching for prolific distraction burglar Mark Rhodes, after he absconded from a prison in Kent. The 26-year-old, of no fixed abode, was serving a five year sentence for fraud and distraction burglary at HMP Standford Hill, in Sheerness, in Kent. He was last seen on 18th September 2010. Rhodes' offences included a distraction burglary which took place in Ross-on-Wye, in March 2009.

Rhodes was arrested in Ipswich in May 2009 after his photo appeared on BBC Crimewatch. Although the offences he committed took place nationwide, the investigation into his offences was led by Gloucestershire Constabulary, in consultation with the CPS South West Complex Casework Unit.

The offences, which took placed in 18 police force areas, were mainly committed over a four month period during 2009, with a handful of isolated offences taking place in 2007 and 2008. The forces where the offences took place are Avon & Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Devon & Cornwall, Dorset, Derbyshire, Humberside, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northumbria, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Cheshire, Thames Valley, West Mercia.

Rhodes had two methods of offending. In the first he knocked on doors in a given area, claiming a link to the local vicar or other member of the church community, and asked householders to lend him money. He was given loans varying from 10 to 400 and on occasions would accompany the householder to a cashpoint while they withdrew money.

His other method involved knocking on doors, claiming to have broken down and asking to use a phone to call for help. He would then distract the householder before stealing cash, bank cards and other similar items. Although Rhodes originates from the Scotland area and may return there at some point, his current whereabouts are unknown.

If anyone has seen him or has any information as to his whereabouts they should contact Gloucestershire Police on 0845 090 1234 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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