Peterborough mum-to-be jailed for distraction burglary of vulnerable man

Sarah Fitzjohn
Sarah Fitzjohn
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A calculating Peterborough mum-to-be who preyed on a vulnerable resident stealing cash from his home has been jailed for four years.

Sarah Fitzjohn (31) was locked up at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday after being found guilty of burglary at a trial earlier in the year.

Fitzjohn, who is expecting a baby boy next month, took cash and jewellery from the frail 59-year-old man, who suffers from arthritis, when she carried out the distraction burglary at her victim’s home in Park Lane, Peterborough.

Judge Sean Enright, sentencing, said: “This was premeditated, calculating, and the victim was carefully targeted.”

The court had been told how Fitzjohn, of Dean Crescent, Hampton, Peterborough, had knocked on the victim’s bedroom window, calling him grandad, a few days after asking for money previously.

When The man opened the door, Fitzjohn burst in, and said ‘I need to borrow money.’

The victim told her he didn’t have any money, but she searched through his jacket and jewellery box, taking £20 in cash and three rings.

She then fled towards Padholme Road.

Charlie Falk, prosecuting, said Fitzjohn had a history of carrying out distraction style burglaries in the past.

In 2001 she was sentenced after telling an 83-year-old woman she was collecting for a cancer charity. When the pensioner went to get some change, Fitzjohn stole her purse and left.

In 2001 she was in court for theft, after befriending an 80-year-old male. She stole the man’s house key, and then took his benefits book.

And in 2012 she was given a five year sentence after carrying out two distraction burglaries at Rutland Court sheltered housing complex in Eastgate.

She tricked one 87-year-old man into believing she was the manager of the complex. She went into the home, and stole his wallet. Two days later she told another resident, an 83-year-old man, she was there to check on his flat on behalf of the manager. She took his wallet when she left.

The court was also told she had offences for supplying class A drugs, robbery and prostitution.

Caroline Allison, defending, said: “She has now made a change in her life, and has been clean of her class A drugs addiction, both heroin and crack cocaine, since 2012.

“She has started a relationship with a woman, who has no convictions or history with drugs.
“She has a stable home and a partner who will do anything to help change her life.

“She also has the prospect of a family, with the baby due in a month’s time.”

Judge Enright sentencing, said he was doing his duty to protect vulnerable people in Peterborough by jailing her.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: “Distraction burglary can be carried out in a variety of ways and often on elderly and vulnerable victims.

“There are a number of precautions people can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

“It is also important that people remain vigilant to activity in their neighbourhood, particularly in areas with vulnerable or elderly residents.

“To reduce the risk of becoming the victim of a distraction burglar, always remember:

“LOCK - Is your back door locked? If not, lock it before you answer the front door as distraction burglars often work in pairs - one distracts, while the other steals

“STOP - Are you expecting anybody?

“CHAIN - Put this on before you open the door. If you have not got one, it is a worthwhile investment. It will give you that extra ‘safe space’ and barrier between you and the caller and then,

“CHECK - Ask for their identification card, take it and look at it carefully. Close the door and check the number in the photo.”