A Maidstone thief who burgled the home of a woman he knew and then sold her possessions at a local jewellery store has been jailed.

Paul Bruce targeted the victim’s property after he spotted her at a barbeque last year and realised no one would be in.

Bruce had previously been in relationship with a family member connected to the woman, and this had led to him have the keys to enter the address in Shernolds, Maidstone. When he went to a barbeque on 12 July 2020, he noticed the victim and her partner were also there.

He left the barbeque and used the keys in his possession to access the victim’s home. Bruce headed to a bedroom and stole an entire collection of valuable jewellery. On the following day he visited a Maidstone jeweller, where he claimed the stolen property was his and sold several of the items.

In attempts to avoid arousing suspicions of staff, Bruce sold the remaining items over the space of a few months, revisiting the store a further three times between 31 July and 16 November.

The victim discovered the theft in December that year, after finding her jewellery box had been emptied and police were called.

She also contacted the jewellery store which confirmed the items had been sold there. The victim was shown an image of the seller, which she recognised as being Bruce.

Aged 32, of no fixed address, Bruce was arrested on 21 January 2021 and later charged with burglary and four counts of fraud (in relation to the selling of stolen items). He pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and on 29 April was sentenced to two years and nine months’ imprisonment.

Detective Constable Matt Thomas of West Kent CID said: ‘The victim was unaware that Bruce had keys to her home. He had connections to her relatives which he has abused in the most appalling way. His actions will undoubtedly have caused a great deal of distress, not only through the loss of the victim’s personal property, but the invasion of their private space and I hope this sentence will at least provide some reassurance that justice has been served.’

By Ed

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