A MOTHER who pretended her car had broken down to get inside stranger’s homes and steal from them has been jailed.

Nicola Collins, 25, of North Road, Westcliff, admitted two counts of burglary and appeared via video link from prison to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard how Collins knocked at a door in Chelmsford Avenue, Southend, at 4pm on January 8, claiming her car had broken down and she had no phone signal.

She asked to borrow the 64-year-old victim’s phone and for a glass of water, which the victim agreed to get.

The victim thought she had closed the door but Collins let herself in and sat in the living room.

When the victim returned, Collins called her partner before leaving the house.

The victim then realised £15 was missing from her purse.

In a victim impact statement, she told the court she had struggled sleeping since the incident.

She said: “I am so upset. I don’t feel safe in my own home and don’t want to live there anymore. I’m not a wealthy lady and £15 is a lot of money for me.”

The second burglary took place the following day in Boston Avenue, Southend, when Collins repeated her con.

She knocked on a stranger’s door claiming her car had broken down and her phone had died.

After forcing her way into the house, she made off with a handbag which was given to the 69-year-old victim by her late husband and was worth £450.

The value of the bag and its contents was estimated at £1,110 and the victim said she had been left “devastated” by the loss.

She added: “My confidence has dropped. I didn’t want to go out for the first few weeks for fear of seeing her.”

Judge David Pugh said told Collins her history of bad behaviour had caught up with her, handed her a 14-month prison term and made her subject of a restraining order so she cannot enter the victims’ streets for three years.