A CARER who stole thousands of pounds from pensioners and hospital patients until her life of crime was revealed when she was caught in the act on CCTV has been jailed.

Gwendolyn Lanius tricked the vulnerable people into thinking she was there to help them by cleaning their homes and carrying out chores.

But instead she was stealing from them – only to be found out when a friend of one of the pensioners had CCTV cameras installed in their home, catching her in the act.

In August, the 83-year-old Uckfield woman told police money was being stolen from her home after footage showed Lanius going into her house while she was out, searching cupboards and drawers and her bed making off with cash and house keys.

A detective pieced together the 61-year-old hospital healthcare assistant and carer’s movements over a number of years to discover she was behind a spate of thefts – stealing more than £600 over a number of months.

She preyed on a 69-year-old Uckfield man in 2013. He became suspicious money was going missing from his wallet when she visited. Sadly the victim died two weeks before the thief admitted stealing £80 from him, police said.

Between April and August 2009 she worked for another family near Uckfield, caring for a terminally ill woman. After the woman died, more than £3,500 was found missing from the family's safe.

Officers then discovered Lanius had been stealing from patients on wards while she was working at Uckfield Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital.

She stole £175 from the handbag of an elderly woman visiting her sister at Uckfield Hospital in May 2010, attempted to steal money from a handbag of a woman visiting her terminally ill mother at the hospital in June 2010 and stole £40 from the handbag of an elderly woman who was visiting her terminally ill husband there in October 2010.

In each case Lanius, of Regency Close, Uckfield, befriended the victims to gain their trust before stealing from them, police said. But she initially denied all the offences when interviewed by Detective constable Annie Nash, from Sussex Police's priority crime unit.

She pleaded guilty to one count of burglary, five counts of theft and one attempted theft at Hove Crown Court and was released on bail to return on June 19 for sentencing.

Lanius has been jailed for two years.