Bogus 'novelty items' salesman jailed for burgling the home of 87-year-old Leeds woman and stealing cash

A doorstep conman who tricked an elderly woman before stealing cash from her home has been sent to prison.

Monday, 30th August 2021, 4:45 am

Steven Howe was jailed for 16 months after Leeds Crown Court heard how he targeted the 87-year-old victim on August 5 this year.

Helena Williams, prosecuting, said the pensioner heard a knock at the door and saw Howe standing outside the property.

She then signalled for him to go around to the back door.

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Leeds Crown Court

The woman got up to go meet Howe at the door but he walked into the living room holding a bag.

Ms Williams said Howe stared at cash which was on top of a drawer as the victim asked him who he was.

Howe told her he was a young offender. Ms Williams said: "He said he had been a bad boy and was trying to be good."

Howe then asked the woman if he could sell her some of the items in his bag and claimed he worked for a company.

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The victim asked Howe to leave. He then asked for a drink of water and asked the victim not to call the police.

She agreed to get him some water but when she returned to the room he was standing by the drawer removing cash.

The victim went to a window and shouted for help.

A woman walking past went to help as she could see the victim was upset.

Howe said that he was selling goods door to door and denied doing anything wrong, claiming the victim was confused.

Police were contacted and Howe was arrested nearby in possession of a bag of "novelty items" and £108 in cash.

When interviewed by officers he again denied any offending and blamed the victim for being confused.

Howe, 26, of Belmont Avenue, Redcar, pleaded guilty to burglary.

At the time of the offence he was the subject of a community order, imposed on July 5 this year, for fraud

The offence involved him again targeting vulnerable elderly victims at home.

Howe overcharged the victims for items and claimed he worked for a company.

Police contacted the firm he purported to be working for but they confirmed he was not an employee.

Caroline Abrahams, mitigating, said Howe was sorry for what he had done.

Ms Abrahams said the defendant was due to become a father and committed the offences as he had no job and needed money to support his young family.

The barrister said Howe is from a supportive family but was "too proud" to ask his parents for financial help.

Sentencing Howe, Recorder Kama Melly said: "You pretended that she was just a confused old lady.

"She was not confused. She was quite right that you were the thief who stole cash from her.

"I am told your behaviour was born of poverty and the need to obtain money for your young family.

"But you yourself have a supportive family and parents which, it has to be said, is more than many people who come before this court.

"You are not someone who had no option than to steal from women in their eighties in their own home."