Drug addict and prolific shoplifter thanks police after turning her life around
A former Sandwell drug addict, who was described as one of the most prolific shoplifters in the West Midlands, has thanked police after turning her life around.
Hayley Bridgewater, 30, formerly from Oldbury, used to spend £300 a day on heroin and crack cocaine.
The college graduate had been holding down a steady job before her life took a nosedive when she met her new boyfriend who introduced her to a life of drugs.
It led to Ms Bridgewater amassing 24 convictions between 2012 and 2017 for theft and handling stolen goods and she was sent to prison on 10 separate occasions.
West Midlands Police’s Offender Management Unit started working with Hayley, formerly of Badsey Road, in 2015 as she emerged as one of the force’s most prolific shoplifters.
She was offered help accessing accommodation, drug withdrawal, mental health, education, employment and family support for her two children.
Her cooperation with police and probation fluctuated until in March 2017, following her final conviction for possessing crack cocaine, when she committed herself to embracing the support of West Midlands Police.
As part of her rehabilitation PC Chris Franklin secured Hayley a place at a Christian drug recovery retreat in the Welsh town of Cwmbran.
Ms Bridgewater, who has been drug and crime-free since, said in a handwritten letter to PC Franklin: “I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me. I am so happy to be starting afresh.
“Having taken this opportunity from you has really opened my eyes; I am finally committed to starting a fresh. You have been such a great support – words can’t explain how thankful I am to have you in my life."
PC Franklin said: “Hayley was at a very low point. A chaotic drug user, she had been evicted from her flat and her daughters had been taken into care. She sold her own car to get money for drugs.
“She was managed as a high risk offender and, though we made some early progress, she missed appointments and kept reoffending. But she had an epiphany last year and her turnaround has been incredible.
“I’ve stayed in touch with Hayley throughout her time at the rehab centre to offer her support and encouragement especially in the first few days and weeks, and she comes to see me whenever she’s back in the West Midlands.
“She’s now a volunteer staff member with a view to be taken on full time in a paid capacity − and the best news of all is that she’s in the process of getting her own home and working towards having more contact with her children.
“She is a completely different person; I hope her story may help others in a similar situation and to illustrate that that there can be light at the end of the tunnel."