No jail for thief who preyed on elderly victims weeks after being released early
A serial thief preyed on elderly residents in the Black Country to pay for her drug addiction, a court heard.
Natasha Harris struck most recently just three weeks after being freed early from a prison sentence, also imposed for stealing from pensioners.
The 28-year-old was released on October 6 last year and 23 days later was invited into the Bloxwich home of a woman in her late 80s whom she knew, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
During the visit the defendant stole the victim’s contactless credit card and quickly used it seven times to purchase around £100 worth of goods while keeping within the £30-a-time limit on transactions.
The following day Harris took an ashtray full of change from a pensioner after calling at his Walsall home with another woman to offer sexual favours, continued Mr Howard Searle, prosecuting.
She was identified from CCTV footage at shops where the stolen credit card was used and was wearing the same clothes when arrested shortly afterwards.
The female victim, who has since died, told police after the crime: “The theft made me feel really upset. I don’t think I will be able to trust anybody in future.”
Miss Nicole Steers, defending, said Harris was ‘disgusted’ by the offending and cannot carry on in this way.
The defendant – whose mother has just renewed their relationship three years after giving up on her daughter’s offending – wants to quit the drugs habit that has blighted her life, it was said.
Miss Steers urged the court to try something other than jail sentences and explained: “She wants a chance to prove herself.”
A Probation Service report to the court supported the suggestion and said it was prepared to offer the woman assistance and advice.
And Judge Simon Ward agreed to suspend a prison sentence.
He told Harris: “You deliberately target elderly people causing serious and life changing harm to them.
“The only way to stop you is to either lock you up for as long as possible or follow the advice of the Probation Service and put you on a drug rehabilitation order.”
Mr Ward declared: “I hope you can change your ways.”
Harris, of no fixed address, received a 16-month prison term suspended for two years with a drug rehabilitation requirement after she admitted fraud and two charges of theft.