Pub charity box thief handed community order and made to pay £250 to charities she stole from

Michelle Burrows leaving Ipswich Magistrates Court

Michelle Burrows leaving Ipswich Magistrates Court - Credit: Staff

A woman who stole charity boxes from pubs in Suffolk has been handed a 12 month community order and made to pay £250 in compensation to four charities who lost out through her actions.

Michelle Burrows, 44, of Kemball Street, Ipswich, pleaded guilty at a hearing on February 13 to stealing the boxes from seven pubs in the space of two weeks in January, taking money donated to St Elizabeth Hospice, the RNLI, Felixstowe Volunteer Coastal Patrol, Marie Curie and the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

Burrows targeted the The Half Moon and the Falcoln Inn in Felixstowe, the Hand in Hand and the Three Mariners in Trimley St Martin, the Douglas Bader in Martlesham, and the Fountain in Tuddenham.

Her last theft, at the Douglas Bader, was committed while bailed by police for three of the charity box thefts following her arrest on January 9.

The court heard Burrows was driven to each pub by a man in a silver car, placed her coat on top of the charity boxes and loitered near the bar before leaving with them concealed under her clothing.

In mitigation, David Allan said Burrows claimed she was being coerced to commit the thefts by the man in the car but ultimately accepted full responsibility for her actions.

“She has no contact with this person and doesn’t want to in the future,” he said.

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Mr Allan said when questioned by police, she admitted to all the charity box thefts and also informed officers of other thefts she had been involved in that police ‘were totally unaware of.”

Sentencing Burrows, District Judge Claire Jackson said it is difficult to work out how much money the charities lost.

She said: “Taking the charity boxes from public houses effectively stopped the charities from taking the money which is quite despicable really.

“There is no excuse.

“I think the charities must have lost out. It is hard to estimate how much but there must have also been administration costs from them contacting the police.”

As well as a 12 month community order, Burrows was handed a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement and made to pay £250 in compensation.

This will be split between St Elizabeth Hospice, the RNLI, Marie Curie and EAAA whose charity boxes were not recovered following her arrest.