Cleaner steals £10k of jewellery from widow’s home

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Catherine Abercrombie helped herself to a diamond pendant. Picture: Greg Macvean
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Catherine Abercrombie helped herself to a diamond pendant. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A CLEANER stole family heirlooms worth £10,000 from an elderly woman’s city home before selling them to a pawn shop.

Catherine Abercrombie “helped herself” to a diamond pendant, diamond, pearl and signet rings and two watches not long after she started working for the widow.

But the woman, who had only moved to her Priestfield home from the Highlands in November last year, became suspicious when she returned from a trip to find that precious jewels had gone missing from her bedroom.

The owner also discovered that a solid gold bracelet, pearl bracelet and a brooch had been taken from her home.

“She took it in two lots,” said the victim, who asked not to be named.

“She really helped herself in a big way. The problem is, I actually liked the girl.”

Most of the jewels were rare heirlooms which had been passed down her family for “quite some time”.

Sadly, none of the most valuable jewellery has been recovered, and the pensioner is certain she will never see it again – or get the full value back.

Several small items which the owner described as “very insignificant” in comparison with the sentimental jewellery have been recovered.

“Most of these things, I had inherited. Happily, I still had my engagement ring on,” she said. “When I was away I always hid [the jewellery]. She must have taken some and then thought she’d take some more. I had it in my bedroom drawer. I should have had a safe but I’m not really a safe person.”

The victim believes the jewels were taken within a fortnight of Abercrombie’s six-week period of employment.

After she discovered the thefts, the woman made up an excuse to cancel one of Abercrombie’s visits, before she contacted police.

“I thought we had a good relationship, I thought she was a nice girl,” she said.

“She took all the diamonds and pearls. I think she knew what she was doing, which made it even more shattering. I can’t see why she did it, unless she was broke.

“I was reluctant to believe it was her. She was somebody I thought I could trust.”

The victim, who lives alone, added: “I hadn’t got it individually insured, I will never get the full value back.”

Abercrombie, 48, pleaded guilty to stealing the jewellery from the home between February 1 and March 25 this year when she appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

Fiscal depute Rosie Cook told the court: “The victim allowed her full access to the property.

“Throughout the period, the victim noticed several pieces of jewellery go missing. It was sold at a pawn shop.”

Sheriff Jamie Gilmour called for background reports and asked the Crown for more detail about the jewellery.

Abercrombie, of St Patrick Square, Newington, will be sentenced next month.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com