A callous carer has admitted stealing hundreds of pounds from elderly, vulnerable people in the north-east – including a 90-year-old woman in sheltered housing.
Ana Duarte, who was employed by Allied Healthcare at the time, took advantage of her position to steal money, cash tins, wallets, purses, and keys from vulnerable people who required homecare.
The 45-year-old targeted people who she was supposed to be caring for, as well as those she had previously been a carer to, across Fraserburgh, Strichen and New Pitsligo.
Duarte even stole a purse and £120 from a 90-year-old in a sheltered housing complex while posing as a carer to con her way inside.
“They offer support to older and disabled people UK-wide by providing services such as preparing meals, washing and giving medication.
“The accused had been employed by Allied Healthcare as a home carer since September 2019. She was previously employed with the company between May 2015 and March 2019.”
In the first incident, Duarte stole a cash box from an 89-year-old woman she was a carer for in Fraserburgh.
Mr Neilson said: “On October 30 2019 the complainer’s nephew gave the complainer £200 in cash. She stored this in a red cash box locked with a key. She kept it in her kitchen.
“They were the only two people who had access to this tin.
‘Could easily attract a custodial sentence’
“During the day, the complainer used the money for various items and noted that she had £40 left, which she put in the cash box.
“Between this time and Monday November 4 2019, she did not access her cash box.
“On November 4 she went to get her cash box to pay her hairdresser and found the cash box was missing.
“The accused was one of the home carers who came to provide care at the locus. The accused had stolen it.
“The £40 was not recovered.”
On November 8 or 9 2019, Duarte broke into the Strichen home of an 87-year-old man, who received home care three times a day.
Mr Neilson said Duarte entered the property for a short while before leaving.
He added: “The owner required to get new keys made.”
Victim, 89, was disabled and rarely left the house
Duarte’s third victim was targeted around November 10 or 11 2019.
Mr Neilson said: “The complainer is 89 years old and lives alone at the address. She is disabled and rarely leaves her home.
“She receives homecare six times per day. At the time of the incident, the accused was one of her carers.”
Duarte stole her bank card and used it to withdraw £250. The money has not been recovered.
In another incident, on November 11 or 12 in New Pitsligo, Duarte targeted a 55-year-old man with mobility issues.
Mr Neilson said: “The complainer has home carers who attend three times per week. He generally leaves his door unlocked.
“At the time of the incident, the complainer had left his wallet, with £200 cash in it, on a shelf in the living room.
“The accused had previously worked at the locus as a carer but not at the time of the incident.
“She had entered the unlocked property while the complainer was away.
“She had stolen the wallet and cash. The items were not recovered.”
Duarte pretended to be 90-year-old’s carer
In the final incident, on November 20 2019, Duarte targeted a 90-year-old woman at a sheltered housing complex in Fraserburgh.
Mr Neilson told the court: “At the time of the incident, the complainer’s purse was in her bedside drawer containing £120 in cash.
“At around 6.30pm on November 20 2019, the accused entered the property via a front door buzzer system while pretending to be a carer.
“The complainer let her in. She was not the complainer’s carer.”
Duarte was was arrested the following day and made “full admissions” to police.
Duarte, whose address was given as Cross Road, Norfolk, admitted five charges of theft, one of theft by opening a locked place, and one of housebreaking with intent to steal.
Sheriff Philip Mann said the offences involved “breach of trust and serious deception”.
He warned Duarte: “These are serious offences and could easily attract a custodial sentence.
“I don’t want you leaving court today under any illusions.
“I can’t impose a custodial sentence without first obtaining a social work report so I will adjourn the case for that purpose.
“With some reluctance, I will continue your bail.”
Duarte is due to return to court to be sentenced in July.