A woman has pleaded guilty to two distraction burglaries after befriending her victims after claiming she had car problems.

Nicola Collins, 25, of North Road, Westcliff, admitted two counts of burglary at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday January 12 and will be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on Friday February 9.

At 4pm on Monday January 8, Collins knocked at a door in Chelmsford Avenue, claiming her car had broken down and she had no phone signal.

She asked to borrow the victim’s phone and for a glass of water. While the victim was distracted, Collins took a two-figure sum of cash out of her purse and left.

The following day Collins knocked at an address in Boston Avenue at 6.20pm and claimed that her car had run out of petrol near Southend Airport. She told the victim the petrol garages had refused to help her.

Collins asked to the use the victim’s phone and pretended to have made a call to a relative.

The victim made Collins, who pretended to cry, a hot drink. Collins then insisted that she would clean the cup, put her coat on top of the victim’s bag, washed up and then left with the handbag, which included cash, keys and personal documents.

Officers quickly identified Collins as the suspect and arrested her at home at 10.40am on Thursday January 11.

Investigating officer PC Michael Brimfield, of Southend CID, said: “Collins preyed on her victim’s trust and good will to distract them in order to steal their personal items.

“She played on their emotions by claiming to be stranded and in desperate need of help. Both victims went above and beyond to assist her, only to later discover they had been burgled.

“Following some quick-thinking, we located Collins, charged her and put her before the courts the following day where she admitted to all the offences." 

For more advice on distraction burglary visit essex.police.uk/advice/bogus-callers