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Thief befriended OAP, then stole her treasures

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

10/12/13 Valerie Peeler who had stuff stolen by a neighbour - Stanton Road, Burton Valerie Peeler

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A THIEF who befriended a neighbour before stealing treasured items of her jewellery has been jailed.

Patricia Brown said she and victim Valerie Peeler were ‘like sisters’, but that did not stop the 54-year-old from stealing a bracelet which was a gift from Mrs Peeler’s late husband, and another which she received on her 21st birthday.

Brown, of Cameron Close, Stapenhill, was yesterday jailed for 12 weeks, after pleading guilty to stealing the items earlier this year.

Burton Magistrates’ Court heard Brown befriended 66-year-old Mrs Peeler when she moved to the area to be closer to her family, following the death of her husband. The pair became close and exchanged house keys to feed each other’s cats.

In April, Mrs Peeler, pictured, noticed Brown wearing a silver Rennie Mackintosh bracelet identical to one she had been given by her late husband. She questioned her, but Brown said it had been a gift from her son.

But suspicion fell onto Brown when other items started to go missing. She admitted the theft when she was confronted by Mrs Peeler.

One bracelet was retrieved by police but the other, which contained precious charms from her late parents, had already been sold.

In a statement read to the court, Mrs

Peeler said: “I am at a loss to describe the emptiness I feel, that these items have been taken away from me in such a calculated fashion.

“I feel violated, not only because of the theft of the jewellery, but because of the precious memories they held.”

She said she thought she had found ‘a kindred spirit’ when she first met Brown.

Adrian Pearce, defending, said the crime had been motivated by Brown’s financial struggles, following job issues.

He said: “There are no winners here. She is traumatised by what she has done. She offers her apologies to Valerie Peeler.”

Sentencing, magistrates berated Brown for manipulating a ‘vulnerable person’, and sent her to prison for 12 weeks. She does not have to pay £1,500 compensation for the bracelet which was not retrieved because she has received a custodial sentence.

Mrs Peeler is unable to claim insurance for the lost bracelet, which she had intended to pass on to her children, as Brown had a key to her house.

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