THREE BROTHERS who preyed on the elderly have been jailed for a raft of doorstep crimes in the Highlands.
James, 42, William, 35, and Peter Johnstone, 30,committed offences of extortion, fraud and theft from vulnerable members of the community.
They were jailed for a total of 66 months between them.
The brothers targeted more than a dozen properties in Inverness.
The elderly householders handed over money after being told work was required to their roofs, chimneys and guttering.
Mostly no work was carried out, although on the rare occasions they did turn up the standard of work was incomplete and shoddy.
One victim handed over £4,000 and another £2,150.
An 86-year-old woman, who had just undergone an operation, was left terrified after James Johnstone returned to her house four times demanding money.
On one occasion he waited outside a shop while she went to get money.
James Johnstone, of Inverness, admitted nine charges of fraud, one of attempted extortion and one for stealing cash from the 86-year-old. He was jailed for 30 months at Dingwall Sheriff Court.
William Johnston, of Aberdeen, and Peter Johnston, of Inverness, admitted four charges of fraud each. They were jailed for 20 months and 16 months respectively.
Superintendent Gus MacPherson, who is the Divisional lead for the operation, said: “Doorstep crime can affect anyone within our local communities, but we are aware that the elderly, such as that mentioned previously, can be particularly targeted due to a perceived vulnerability.
“The conviction and sentencing of the Johnstone brothers reiterate Police Scotland’s ongoing commitment to bring to justice those who partake in such activity and help to keep people safe.
“We would urge householders to be vigilant and we would highlight the dangers of allowing unidentified callers into their homes.
“People should always check ID at the door and if you are in any doubt do not let them into your home. Additionally we would urge family members and neighbours to be equally vigilant.
“Those who commit such crimes, like bogus callers and rogue traders, are extremely convincing in how they interact with potential victims. Almost anyone can be taken in by their convincing line of approach.”
He added: “We know that there is a significant amount of underreporting of this crime type, with individuals either not being aware that they have been subject to a crime, or may feel embarrassed to tell someone.
“Through local and national campaigns, Police Scotland and all our partner agencies have been raising awareness amongst communities of this distasteful crime and hopefully giving confidence to equip communities to deal with those who cold-call at their door.”