A cruel thief who took a ring off an 83-year-old widow’s finger was caught after police tracked her down using DNA evidence and automatic number plate recognition cameras.
The thief also removed a chain from the woman’s neck while distracting her during the incident.
The victim was walking along Charles Avenue at the junction with Derby Road in Radford when 32-year-old Claudia Buncici approached her and started talking to her stating that it was her birthday.
As part of her distraction Buncici handed the woman a package wrapped up in sticking tape and said she was giving it to her as a gift.
She then tried to steal the widow’s wedding ring from her finger while she was distracted but was unsuccessful.
However, Buncici managed to steal a gold ring from her hand and a St Christopher’s chain from her neck without her knowing – both of which were gifts from her late husband. The couple had been married for 56 years until his death in 2014.
The package Buncici had given her during the incident, which happened during the afternoon of Tuesday 14 July 2020, was later found to be full of small stones.
Detectives retrieved the package and DNA tests on the tape used to wrap it proved to be a match for Buncici who was subsequently arrested and charged.
Additional automatic number plate recognition camera evidence was obtained relating to a vehicle used by Buncici in the Nottingham area when she committed the offences.
When police officers from the Radford response team, who were on shift that day, heard what had happened they wanted to show the victim some kindness.
So all 10 officers rallied around and sent her some flowers.
Speaking at the time, the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I received a card with about 10 police autographs in it first. Then I received the beautiful flowers with a lovely written card with them from Rota 2.
“It made me very emotional but it was so sweet and kind of everyone. I felt honoured they had done that for me as it was over and above them doing their job.
“I have shown the cards to everyone who have visited, even my dog approves! Thank you again so very much.”
In a victim statement given to police, she added: “The chain and ring that were taken from me were gifts from my husband. Both are irreplaceable. Part of the reasons I wore them was so I would always have something from him with me wherever I want.
Buncici, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to charges of theft and attempted robbery and was jailed for three years when she appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday (12 November 2021).
Detective Constable Gavin Harper, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Buncici preyed on this elderly woman’s vulnerability and kindness in carrying out her despicable crimes.
“The ring and chain she stole were invaluable to the victim as they were both presents from her late husband. Now Buncici is behind bars I hope she will reflect on the immense pain she caused to this elderly woman by stealing these sentimental items.”