It’s boring getting old, that’s according to June Humphreys, 76, who used her free government bus pass to go on a four year shoplifting spree. Looking like an innocent old dear with her big red shopping trolley, June would wheel her way up and down the aisles, pilfering hundreds of pounds worth of products.
Although she got caught a few times, she had got the kleptomania bug. She travelled for miles seeking out new places to pinch from. Her main area of operation was the northern counties of England. She was said by a probation officer to have clocked up more shoplifting convictions that the average teenager addicted to heroin. June was not too fussy about what she took. On one recent occasion she made off with a breast pump.
Magistrates could have sent Mrs Humphryes to jail for her offenses but they took pity on her when she explained that she was so bored with being old and it gave her an excuse to get out the house and have something to do. She explained she was also very lonely. The mother of seven said she had very little contact with her children and her grandchildren, although one of them did live upstairs from her. She had arrived at court pushing her familiar trolley which had served for so long as a mobile swag bag.
June had had charges brought against her in the three years between 2011 and 2013 and then this year she was up to her old tricks again. In January she was apprehended as she took a variety of candy and chocolate from one store, and baby clothes from two others. After she was caught this time, she confessed she had already been in a few other shops already that day. She had taken more confectionery, alcohol and coffee and two pairs of boots.
The court also heard that June Humphreys was ill. She is suffering from breast cancer, for which she is being treated, and from osteoarthritis.
Probation officer, Darren Vernon, recommended that June be given one last chance, in light of the fact she had pleaded guilty and she knew what she had been doing was wrong. She got a one month sentence for the shoplifting and it was suspended for a year. She was put on a strict warning that she would not be let off so lightly if she re-offends.
The defence solicitor was grateful for the verdict as his client definitely did not want to go to prison.
What she will do to keep her boredom at bay will be an issue for June as she leaves her wayward shoplifting ways behind her. Loneliness is elderly people is a massive problem, although most do not resort to June’s tactics to combat it. Half of all over-75s in the UK live on their own, and half of them again cite the television as their best friend and source of comfort.
This tale of a bored and lonely Great-Grandma who resorted to shoplifting in order to have something to do, is a poignant portrait of the lengths some elderly will go to in order to keep themselves occupied. June Humphreys was also ordered to pay some costs.
By Kate Henderson