A BOGUS meter reader who targeted an 83-year-old Nelson woman living alone and stole £400 from her purse has been jailed for 22 months.
Burnley Crown Court heard how jobless Razwan Ali later returned to the victim’s home after she had rung the police and she saw him take the purse from his pocket. The cash was missing, as well as some old bank books, and Ali later went into Lloyds TSB with a book, asking how much money was in the account. He claimed it belonged to his grandmother, but the cashier was not happy, confiscated the book and he left empy-handed.
CCTV stills of the defendant in the bank were circulated, he was recognised as wanted and arrested. He had £240 on him, but made no comment when questioned. The victim later picked him out on an identity parade.
Ali, who had just been released from a prison sentence for drugs supplying, had 11 previous convictions. The defendant (25), of Barkerhouse Road, Nelson, had admitted the “distraction” burglary.
Miss Rachel White (prosecuting), said last November, the defendant knocked on the pensioner’s door. She thought it was her meals on wheels, shouted “Who is it?” and a male voice replied he had come to the read the meter.
The victim asked for identification, but she did not get a clear view through the frosted glass of her door and let the man in. She thought it strange he was without meter reading equipment. Ali pretended to look at the meter under the stairs, asked for a pen and paper to write the reading down, but wouldn’t leave the living room when she asked him to read her gas meter.
Miss White said the defendant then asked the 83-year-old if she wanted any shopping and got her very confused telling her he could get her cheap cigarettes and talking on his mobile phone. The victim’s meals on wheels arrived and Ali twice tried to take the tray off the women delivering it. She refused, but didn’t ask any questions about the defendant’s presence and left.
Ali asked the pensioner to open her back gate for him and told her to wait for him. She got cold in the yard, went inside and found her purse had gone. She called the police and a few minutes later Ali came back. She asked if he had taken her purse and then saw him take it from his pocket.
Miss White said at about 12.30 p.m., the defendant was captured on CCTV at Lloyds TSB in Nelson. He left after the victim’s bank book was taken from him and was arrested later the same day.
Mr James Heyworth, for Ali, said it was his first burglary and the offence was out of character. He understood, that even after a timely guilty plea, he would be going to immediate custody. The barrister added: “He just wishes to put this matter behind him and move on.”