A PROLIFIC purse pincher used wigs in a bid to hide her identity while stealing from vulnerable women.

Serial criminal Kelly Marie Loader wore the hair pieces to disguise herself from security guards and cameras as she went on a spate of purse thefts in Southampton.

The 40-year-old, who has nearly 200 previous offences recorded against her, pretended to help some of her victims before stealing from them.

She also followed some from shop-to-shop before making a move on their valuables.

During the three month spree Loader stole six purses and two handbags – one of which belonged to an 85-year-old woman who had recently been widowed.

Now Loader has been jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to the thefts.

Southampton Crown Court heard how Loader's spree began on March 25, 2018, when she targeted a woman at Lidl in Totton.

Prosecutor Simon Foster said Loader stole the woman's purse from her bag while she was distracted picking up an item that had fallen from a shelf.

Loader targeted a retired nurse in Sainsbury's in Shirley in a similar way on May 16, stealing the woman's handbag containing £50 in cash.

When the incident was seen on CCTV, Loader, who was known to security staff, was seen wearing a wig in a bid to disguise herself.

Loader also targeted another woman in Sainsbury's, pretending to help her after her granddaughter's buggy fell over while actually stealing her purse.

Ten minutes later, Loader had used the bank cards inside three times at a nearby off-licence, spending £67 in total.

She also targeted others in both Lidl and Sainsbury's in Shirley, once stealing a purse containing sentimental items, including a birth certificate and baby teeth belonging to the victim's children.

On two occasions she followed victims from one shop into another shop before stealing their purse or handbag.

Loader also stole items from Poundland and Superdrug, both times being caught in the act on CCTV.

Mr Foster said the recorded total value of all of the stolen items, the handbags, purses, the cash inside and the money fraudulently spent on the stolen bank cards totalled £895.

He added that the values of some purses and handbags were not recorded, meaning the total could be higher.

In mitigation, Chris Gaiger said Loader was trapped in a "vicious cycle" involving Class A drugs.

He said Loader was in an "abusive" relationship at the time and was committing the thefts to feed both her and her partner's drug habit.

Mr Gaiger added that Loader, who has 60 previous convictions for 196 offences, had since shown remorse and had completed a number of courses while in custody, having been arrested five months ago.

Loader pleaded guilty to a total 14 new of offences, including six purse thefts and two handbag thefts.

She also admitted thefts from Southampton stores Poundland in May and Superdrug in September, as well as an attempted theft and three counts of bank card fraud, which all took place in September.

In sentencing, Judge Peter Henry said: "These were extremely unpleasant and mean offences.

"You targeted women who were in a vulnerable position, whether that be because they had young children with them or some were older or were distracted.

"On more than one occasion you targeted a vulnerable person and followed that person until an opportunity arose that you could steal from them."

Loader, of Olive Road, Southampton, was sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison.


t: 023 8042 4531

e: james.robinson@