A woman has been jailed for six years for a series of East Sussex burglaries over just eight days during which she preyed on elderly people in their own homes.
Josephine Webb, 47, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court, having been convicted of all five offences after a trial in which she pleaded not guilty.
Sometime between 8am and 9am on January 26 this year, Webb called at an address in Bourne Court, Hastings, and offered the 93-year-old woman living there a free haircut.
While there she took a handbag and jewellery.
Four days later, at about 3pm on Friday, January 30, she called at a flat occupied by a married couple in Grand Parade, Eastbourne, with a bottle of milk she said was for the lady opposite. She was allowed into the couple’s flat to write a message for the lady and left.
A short while later it was noticed a handbag had gone from the couple’s flat containing £300 cash, a disability blue badge, cheque book and bank card.
On Sunday, February 1, Webb called at an address in Quarry Road, Hastings, and was allowed in by the woman living there after claiming to have just been the victim of a handbag theft.
She then abruptly left and the resident later found her wallet had been taken from a handbag.
The following day Webb returned to the same address, claiming to come from the police, and walked straight in, running off with two handbags.
At that point the woman called the police, who searched the area and found Webb in the town centre soon afterwards, in possession of a bank card from the victim of the Eastbourne offence.
Earlier the same day, February 2, before calling at that address and later being arrested, Webb had called at two other addresses, one in Bexhill and one in Hastings.
At about 1.45pm she had called at an address of a 98-year-old woman in Sutherland Avenue, Bexhill, claiming to have come from social services to discuss cleaning arrangements.
After she left, the occupant realised a purse had been stolen.
Less than two hours later Webb called at a flat in Holmesdale Gardens, Hastings, claimed to want to leave a message for the man living opposite, and asked for pen and paper.
While the resident went to fetch those, Webb took a bag containing the resident’s pension money.
Of the property stolen in the offences, only the bank card from February 2 was recovered.
Detective Sergeant Jason Tuck said: “Webb preyed on the elderly and vulnerable women while on day release from prison. Needless to say she never returned after her day out and went on the run for a few days until we caught her after the burglary on February 2.”
She had been serving a seven-year sentence at Sutton Park prison in Kent for three burglaries in Hastings in 2011, and disappeared after she was given day release on January 24 this year.
DS Tuck added: “This case shows that distraction thieves like Webb may use a variety of ruses. The golden rule is - do not let anyone into your home unless you know exactly who they are and you are satisfied they have a genuine reason for visiting. If in doubt, keep them out and call us on 999.”
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