Arrest After Man Returns Home to Find Entire House Had Been Stolen

Reverend Mike Hall was away in Wales when it is alleged a fraudster stole his identity, stripped his home of belongings, and then sold the actual house.
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Mike Hall's £130,000 house in Luton was sold without him knowing. Images: Mike Hall and Getty Images

A man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud after a vicar said he returned home to find it had been stolen and sold by someone else. 

Reverend Mike Hall was alerted to suspicious activity after his neighbours rang him in August to inform him people had been entering his house in Luton, Bedfordshire while he was away.

It is alleged that while he was working in Wales his identity was stolen by fraudsters who impersonated him in order to sell the property, thought to be worth £130,000 and which he had owned for 30 years.  


“I went to the front door, tried my key, it didn't work, and a man opened the front door to me," he told BBC Radio 4.

The man was a builder who had allegedly been instructed by the “new owner” to carry out works. All his furniture had been removed and the locks changed. 

Hall said when he accessed the Land Registry documentation online to find out whose name appeared as the owner of his home, it was someone else’s name.  

A man from Bedford was arrested on Thursday in connection to the alleged fraudulent sale, said Bedfordshire Police. 

Detective Inspector James Day, head of the serious fraud investigation unit, said:  “I can only imagine the anxiety and stress the victim has had to endure in this unusual and sophisticated case. My team of specialist officers is determined to get justice for him.”

Although the crime of stealing someone else’s house is uncommon, it is not unheard of.

Over the last five years, 196 fraudulent applications to the Land Registry – worth over £100 million – have been stopped. Over the same period, the Land Registry has paid out £12,500,000 to victims of property fraud in cases where the registry has changed the name of the owner on the register or added a mortgage incorrectly.

In 2019, Angela Ellis-Jones returned to her £850,000 south London home from visiting her mother to find it had been stolen from her.  

Fraudsters had blocked her letterbox and installed a fake post box placed outside her property, in order to use her post to steal her identity. Ellis-Jones later discovered the criminal had used a solicitor to contact the Land Registry to put the property into his name. It took four months to return the property to her.

A spokesperson for the Land Registry told VICE World News: “Combatting fraud is a key priority for us and over the last five years we have prevented fraud on properties worth over £100m. While fraudulent transactions are rare (average of 0.001% of applications) our state guarantee protects homeowners in the event they are victims of registration fraud.”

“Our specialist counter fraud teams focus on detection, prevention and education, working with professional conveyancers, such as solicitors, who are required to make checks to prevent fraud and money laundering,” said the spokesperson. “We are actively encouraging conveyancers to use digital cryptographic ID checking as a more secure means of identifying people.”