A burglar who swindled thousands of pounds from a pensioner after using a crudely drawn hat to impersonate a police officer has been jailed for two years.
Tracey Hayward, 36, drew the word “police” onto the cap in order to persuade her partially-sighted victim, June Kingsbury, 88, out of up to £2,500.
Hayward came to Kingsbury’s home saying she was a police officer and pretended to dust for prints and “check equipment”, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Carers from a home help agency later became suspicious when the pensioner told them about giving money to women visitors, so they set up hidden cameras.
Kingsbury, who had lost one eye in a serious assault 40 years ago and had 10% vision in the other, also showed signs of dementia and confusion, the court was told.
Prosecutor Julian Howells said: “It was decided by [the home help agency] to do something specific and they installed covert wildlife cameras in the kitchen to try and record what was happening.”
The cameras showed Hayward appeared at the house frequently and used different names, sometimes wearing her police “disguise”.
Things came to a head when Hayward turned up at Kingsbury’s home on in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, while carer Beverley Sayers was at the house.
Sayers hid in a bathroom and texted her boss who came straight to the scene with his wife.
The couple made a citizen’s arrest, as Hayward lashed out and scratched, the court heard.
Police found her home-made police cap in her rucksack.
Rupert Russell, defending, said Hayward was “deeply remorseful” for the “out of character” offending, which he said was driven by a relapse into drug use.
He said his client and Kingsbury met outside a coffee shop, struck up a friendship and that Kingsbury invited her to her home.
Hayward, of Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to three burglaries and one theft.
The recorder, Simon Foster, jailed her for two years.
He told Hayward: “This was a nasty, underhand, duplicitous and mendacious crime which you perpetrated, sometimes using the guise of a police officer.
“You were a frequent visitor. This was a thoroughly unpleasant and protracted spell of criminality lasting some six months.”