A woman who preyed on elderly and vulnerable people by telling them she worked for Fife Council to gain entry to their homes has been jailed.
Bogus carer Lisa Nicholson lied her way into the homes of pensioners in different parts of Fife, looking for valuables and asking about bank cards.
When police arrived to apprehend Nicholson in connection with another matter, they saw her walking ahead of the old lady and reaching into the bag for a purse.
When cornered by police as she attempted to steal a purse from an 85-year-old woman in a Kirkcaldy street, Nicholson launched a violent attack on a female officer.
Nicholson, 30, of High Street, Cowdenbeath, admitted a string of offences and appeared for sentencing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.
She admitted forming a fraudulent scheme to obtain entry to the homes of elderly and vulnerable people by stating she was an employee of Fife Council and that on April 15 at an address in Lochleven Road and two addresses in Montrose Crescent, Lochore, stated to various householders that she worked for the council or was a carer concerned in their welfare, gained entry to their homes and asked about their valuables and financial matters.
She also admitted that on July 2 she was found in the curtilage of a house in Lyneburn Crescent, Halbeath, whereby it could be inferred that she intended to commit theft.
On July 3 she stole jewellery from a house in Myers Court, Dunfermline.
On August 4 in Hill Street, Kirkcaldy, she attempted to steal a purse. On that occasion she also acted in an abusive manner by shouting, swearing, uttering offensive remarks and assaulted PC Amanda Donald by repeatedly kicking her on the body to her injury.
Nicholson was also sentenced for an earlier offence when she stole a watch from a house in Benarty Avenue, Lochgelly.
Depute fiscal Louise Ward said Nicholson turned up at the door of a 74-year-old woman in Lochore, claiming she was there as a support helper and had been sent by her daughter. She told the woman she had forgotten to pay a bill.
After asking to use the toilet, Nicholson told the woman she would need her VISA card to pay the bill. However, the woman then phoned her daughter and Nicholson left.
The next house she visited was the home of a 65-year-old woman in Montrose Crescent. She told the woman she was her carer, was allowed in and asked to use the toilet. When she returned and sat down in the living room, the woman asked who had sent her.
Nicholson replied, “Fife Council, I’ve to help the old people and disabled.” She added that she was there to help with her finances and went through to the woman’s bedroom. She asked the woman if she had any jewellery worth more than £500 as she would need more insurance.
The woman said she did not and called the police when Nicholson left.
In the same street, a 46-year-old woman was leaving her mother’s home and found Nicholson in the garden, claiming she was a carer. When the woman asked whose carer she was, Nicholson pointed at the woman’s mother who was standing at the front door. Again police were contacted.
In Lyneburn Crescent, Nicholson entered the home of a disabled woman, again claiming to be a carer. The woman told her she did not have a new carer and managed to usher her out.
At Myers Court, she entered the home of an elderly man who was sitting watching TV. She asked if she could use the toilet. After using the downstairs toilet she went upstairs and stole a gold necklace before leaving by the back door.
In Kirkcaldy, Nicholson’s victim was an 85-year-old woman. She pretended to know her then took her bag from her saying it was too heavy. When police arrived to apprehend Nicholson in connection with another matter, they saw her walking ahead of the old lady and reaching into the bag for a purse.
Nicholson also went to the home of a family friend in Lochgelly saying she had no money and no food. As the man made her a pizza, she went upstairs and stole his watch.
Defence solicitor Chris Sneddon said his client had learning difficulties which made it obvious to some witnesses that she was not a carer. He said she also had a history of mental health problems and his view was that in these offences she was exploited by others who were “pulling the strings”.
Sheriff Charles Macnair jailed Nicholson for three months for the Lochore offences and a further 176 days for the other matters.
He also imposed a five-year ASBO banning her from entering or attempting to enter any dwelling without knowing the occupant or without prior invitation.