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Fraudster, 27, stole car from petrol garage after noticing the owner had left his keys in the ignition when he went to pay for fuel


  • Chelsea Beckham, 27, stole the car from an acquaintance she met in the street 

A fraudster mis-selling games consoles online stole an acquaintance’s car after he stepped out of the car to pay for petrol while giving her a lift – and left the keys in the ignition.

Chelsea Beckham, 27, climbed into the driver’s seat of the man’s car after meeting him in the street in Chesterton, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, on April 9, 2023, and drove off.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Beckham, who has a string of previous convictions, met the man in Chesterton while he was driving someone else’s Skoda, before asking if he would drive her and her partner around town.

He then pulled into an Esso service station on Liverpool Road and filled up with fuel, before heading inside to pay – prompting Beckham to clamber into the driver’s seat, start the car up and leave.

The theft happened just days after she sold someone an Xbox 360 for £100 – having advertised it on Gumtree under the guise of the newer Xbox One model.

Chelsea Beckham asked an acquaintance to drive her around town - before stealing his car as he went to pay for petrol

Chelsea Beckham asked an acquaintance to drive her around town – before stealing his car as he went to pay for petrol

Prosecutor Emmanuel Coniah told the court of the meeting in Chesterton: ‘The defendant (Beckham) asked the man to drive her and her partner around. She got in the front passenger seat and her partner sat in the back seat.

‘The driver said he needed fuel and went to an Esso Service Station on Liverpool Road. He left the key in the ignition and entered the shop to pay. While in the store the cashier informed him that the Skoda had just been driven off.

‘CCTV showed the defendant climb over the centre console into the driver’s seat and drive the vehicle off.’

Police then spotted the vehicle in Fenton, east of Stoke-on-Trent, two days later -pulling it to the side of the road and finding Beckham at the wheel. 

The prosecutor added: ‘The officer followed the vehicle until it came to a stop. He approached the driver’s door and arrested the defendant.’

The theft happened just days after she sold someone an Xbox 360 for £100 – having advertised it on Gumtree under the guise it was the newer Xbox One model. 

Mr Coniah said of the fraud victim: ‘She saw an advertiser called Chelsea selling an Xbox One series, two consoles and five games.

He stopped at an Esso service station on Liverpool Road (pictured) to buy fuel - at which point Beckham jumped into the driver's seat and drove off

He stopped at an Esso service station on Liverpool Road (pictured) to buy fuel – at which point Beckham jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off

‘On April 4 they exchanged details by text for the defendant to attend the buyer’s address to exchange the Xbox, two consoles and five games for £100. 

‘The defendant attended and handed over an Xbox 360 which was an older version of the Xbox in the advertisement. The defendant took the £100 from the woman and left.’

Beckham was jailed for 30 weeks – but was released having already served half of the sentence on remand.

In a victim statement the owner of the car said he was upset by the theft. Beckham, of Pear Tree Lane, Chesterton, pleaded guilty to fraud, theft of a vehicle, two charges of driving while disqualified and two charges of driving without insurance.

Paul Cliff, mitigating, said the fraud was ‘really low-level’. He said: ‘It was sneaky but unsophisticated.’

He said it was a ‘spur of the moment decision’ to take the car. Mr Cliff said Beckham has had a problem with drugs and she moved to Blackpool to avoid negative influences in North Staffordshire.

He said: ‘She engaged for four or five years in a drug subculture in this city. When she was in Blackpool she was off drugs. She found a job in a hotel. She has not used drugs since she went there.’

He added that Beckham spent 141 days on remand in custody plus 11 days from a qualifying curfew. 

Judge Graeme Smith said Beckham has an unenviable record of low-level criminal offending. He said: ‘The fraud was a sneaky offence.’

He added that the theft of the car was the most serious crime. The sentence led to Beckham’s immediate release from custody. She was also banned from driving for six months.



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