A family hid a camera in a clock to catch a thieving carer who helped herself to cash from an elderly widow’s purse.
Frail Molly Roberts, 88, was forced to rely on carers after the devastating ordeal of having her leg amputated.
Carol Oldfield, 46, of Cameron Croft, Chorley, admitted theft at Preston Crown Court and was given a 12-week jail term suspended for two years, after Molly’s daughter Gwen Bode, her husband Phil and grandson Andrew rigged up a hidden camera in a digital clock on her mantelpiece, to catch the thief in the act.
Within two hours, it had recorded Oldfield, a married mother, helping herself to £10, glancing over her shoulder before she took the money.
The footage shows Oldfield holding the cash and cheerily telling the widow: “I won’t see you next week, I’m on holiday.”
The distraught great-grandmother, still reeling from the death of husband Les, burst into tears when her family gently broke the news to her.
Gwen, a retired teacher, of Conway Close, Euxton, said: “She just couldn’t believe that anybody would do this to her. It has shattered her faith in human nature.
“She would not believe it was any of her nurses or carers because she absolutely trusted them.”
Molly, who had her leg amputated 18 months ago, was unable to explain why cash her family had withdrawn for her was disappearing from her purse.
Unsure what to do, the family began to record who was visiting Molly and when cash was going missing.
Gwen’s husband, Phil, a retired chartered engineer, said: “It was difficult to work out because lots of district nurses and carers were assisting Molly but when we wrote it down and narrowed down who had been in on each occasion, we got closer to the truth.
“Our son Andrew is a videographer and we decided to buy a hidden camera.
“We bought the clock camera off eBay for about £20.”
On November 10, last year they set it up. Within hours, it recorded the sickening footage.
Gwen said: “We checked her purse later that day and knew £10 had gone.
“Then we watched the footage. We couldn’t believe it. But it was very clear.
“I’m devastated that someone could do this, especially to someone like my mum.”
She added: “When I told her she just cried. It was extremely upsetting.
“If she had needed money and asked my mum would have given it to her because that’s how she was. But Carol Oldfield didn’t need money. She had no debts, no addictions. It was just sheer greed, because it was there.”
“My mum was very confident and always had her doors open. Now she has to lock her doors, it has unnerved her.”
The family showed the film to Lancashire care firm Crossroads Care, who said the police would need to be involved.
They sacked the carer, who had worked for the firm for around 20 years, straight away and a spokesman today said they don’t believe any other patients were affected.
Gwen added: “They were excellent and we still have their carers looking after Mum.
“Carol Oldfield is just one bad egg, it shouldn’t reflect on the other staff.”
Phil said: “Oldfield told the police Molly had asked her to buy some cream - but the camera, which actually ran for two hours, shows there was no mention of that. In fact, as she left she told Molly she wouldn’t see her as she was going on holiday. If she was buying cream, for her, she would have to have seen her. The camera never lies.”
Preston Crown Court, which heard Oldfield’s crime was a breach of trust, ordered her to pay £10 compensation to Molly and £200 costs.
The family they believe more money went missing, but Oldfield was only prosecuted over the £10 she was caught on camera stealing.