Woman steals from her own family at funeral

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a coffin in a morgue with a...

Michelle Roberts, a 45-year-old currently living in Bracondale Road, Abbey Wood, has been jailed for six months - for stealing from her own relatives at her uncle's funeral. She took bank cards, £80 in cash and £300 of John Lewis vouchers. She used the cards to spend more than £400 on online music.

The judge called it a 'mean and despicable crime' but she's not the first criminal to take advantage of a death.

The Daily Mail reported that she had sneaked into the kitchen during Fred Rousell's funeral in Southend in 2011, and gone through the bags belonging to family members. She was also heard asking for people's addresses and dates of birth.

According to the Echo, the judge spoke of "the mean and despicable way you committed the offences." He added: "You used time of great grief of Mr Rousell's family to steal from vulnerable family and friends."

It's horrible to think she could target a grieving family, but shockingly she is not the first to see death as an opportunity.

Stealing from the dead

In October we reported on the two sisters who were accused of stealing wreaths spelling out 'Mum' and 'Nan' from a graveyard after a funeral. They said they had planned to put them on their own mother's grave, but police who raided their home found seven wreaths, including one spelling out Dad, blank condolence cards, wreath stands, a photo album full of pictures of wreaths, and what the police called wreath-making paraphernalia.

That same month, an undertaker from Cambridgeshire was jailed for four months for stealing £200 from a 78-year-old woman when he went to pick up her corpse. He took her purse, credit card and PIN and told the court he did it to escape a job he found 'nasty' 'vile' and 'disgusting'.

A year earlier it was the turn of an undertaker from Birmingham to be jailed for four months for stealing the rings from a dead man before his funeral. His crime was discovered when he took the rings to a car boot sale, where he tried to sell them to a friend of the deceased man.

A year before that an undertaker from Sheffield was jailed for eight months for stealing a bank card when he went to pick up a body and using it to withdraw £750.

But Alan Crickmore, a 57-year-old solicitor from East Approach Drive in Cheltenham, took stealing from the deceased to the extreme. Last November a court heard that he had stolen £2 million from clients - including £894,442 from the estate of Kenneth Goodwin, who died in 2007. He spent the money on living the high life: the £400,000 he spent on his credit card included £45,000 on restaurants, £74,000 on supermarket bills, £33,000 on holidays and £92,000 of cash withdrawals.