A Swindon woman has been sentenced to two years and eight months imprisonment after pleading guilty to three counts of theft and two counts of fraud.
Charlotte Branford, aged 35, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Swindon Crown Court on Monday.
The offences all occurred in the Swindon area between October and December 2016. In one incident, Branford stole £300 as well as bank cards from a hairdressers in Victoria Road after claiming she had locked herself out of her home and needed to use their phone.
In a separate incident, she stole a purse from the house of a pensioner living in Berenger Close and used the bank cards to withdraw £750 cash.
And in another incident she asked an elderly woman for a lift to the Great Western Hospital, claiming she was late for work, and then stole money from the woman’s purse as she kindly gave her the lift.
PC Jonathan Kilburn said: “This case sends a powerful message to anyone who would think of committing crime in Swindon and targeting vulnerable people – we will fully investigate and bring these cases to court to ensure justice is served.
“I hope Branford uses her time in custody to work towards her rehabilitation and when released, will be a lawful and productive member of society.
“A number of officers assisted in this investigation and helped bring the case to court and I am grateful to them. I would also like to pay tribute to the victims and witnesses in this case, some of them are elderly and they have shown strength and patience in waiting for justice.
“Finally, it is really important to remind the public of the following crime prevention advice:
1. Never tell anyone your bank card PIN number. If you get the PIN number via a letter from the bank, change it, if possible and destroy the letter. Never write your PIN number down.
2. If someone you don’t know comes to your door asking for something, do not let them in or the very least do not leave them unattended inside your home. Be polite but firm with them, shut the door if you need to get something.
3. If someone approaches you in the street asking for money to get home, be polite but cautious. This also applies if someone flags you down stating they have run out of fuel or lost their keys. Some people may be in genuine distress – if you are concerned for that person’s welfare you can call the police or if it is medical incident then consider calling an ambulance.
“Please think of your safety and valuables and be vigilant.”