Woman pretending to be from a charity pleads guilty to Bedford distraction burglary

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elderly person old age pensioner

A woman made off with £200 from a property in Oak Road, after pretending she was from a charity helping elderly people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Melissa Hopkins, 35, of Edinburgh Drive, Wisbech, pleaded guilty to burglary with violence last Friday (25 September) at Cambridge Crown Court.

At the height of lockdown, on 20 May, Hopkins visited a property in Oak Road, Bedford, claiming to be from a charity offering elderly and vulnerable people support.

Under the pretence of donating bread and milk to the victim she was allowed into the property.

Once inside, Hopkins made her way upstairs. The victim followed her she pushed past him knocking him off balance, before searching his pockets and making off with his wallet which contained £200.

The victim also noticed his telephone line had been pulled out and that his will documentation was missing.

Scenes of Crime forensic officers found fingerprints left on the window frame in the victim’s bedroom. These matched fingerprints left on the bread wrapper, brought into the property by Hopkins.

Detective Constable Andy Boston, from Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated burglary team – Operation Maze, said, “I am pleased Hopkins pleaded guilty to this offence, as it is clear she intimidated the victim and preyed on his good nature for her own financial gain and greed.

“Burglaries of this nature have long lasting effects on vulnerable members of the community, and Bedfordshire Police will continue to ensure that people responsible for such crimes will be brought to justice.”

“We understand these are uncertain times, so please look out for your elderly and vulnerable neighbours and relatives and talk to them about the dangers of distraction burglaries, and the steps they can follow to verify if someone is from a charity.”

Hopkins is due to be sentenced week commencing 19 October and is remanded in custody.

  • If you have an unexpected knock on the door never open it to strangers, consider installing a door chain and always keep it on
  • If unsure of the visitor’s identity always ask for their ID first and telephone the company or charity they are purporting to be from, and use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory, or provided independently by your service provider
  • Discuss any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader
  • Check whether traders are members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme or the Government Trust Mark scheme
  • Don’t agree to any work or sign anything on the spot. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out
  • Never pay cash up front and never go to the bank or cash point with a trader
  • If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999

If you feel the caller is suspicious, do not hesitate to contact Bedfordshire Police by calling us on 101 for non-emergencies or call 999 if you suspect a crime is happening. Take note of any vehicle registration numbers and a description of the suspected offenders.

To find out more about how to spot bogus callers, information is available on the force’s website.

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