SHARING a joke with a friend, crack addict Emma Scott sells her mobile phone – the same one she told police had been stolen in a robbery.
But she isn’t smiling now after she was caught making up the story so that she could get money for drugs.
Scott wasted more than 100 hours of police time after claiming she was attacked by two men at the Shell Petrol station in Southsea, on the afternoon of February 1, so that she could claim a new phone on her insurance.
The 26-year-old said the ordeal had forced her to move from Dupree Drive in Southsea to Porchester Road, Southampton, as she no longer felt safe in the area.
But in truth she had sold her phone at Cash Converters, in London Road, North End, to fund her crack cocaine addiction.
Police launched an appeal for information on the robbery in The News and released detailed descriptions of a mixed race man and a white man who were accused of carrying out the offence.
Officers also carried out door-to-door inquiries and studied hours of CCTV footage.
But as the investigation went on Scott’s story began to unravel.
There was no sign of Scott or her attackers in the CCTV and no witnesses came forward.
When detectives went to her Southsea address one of her flatmates told them she had sold her phone.
CCTV from the Cash Converters store showed her smiling at the counter of the shop.
Detective Constable Craig Turner said: ‘I investigated this allegation of robbery thoroughly until I uncovered the truth of what had happened.
‘This kind of incident is very frustrating.
‘When my time is wasted in this nature I am not dealing with my other investigations that have genuine victims of crime.
‘I hope this will be a warning to others who would consider making a false report to police.’
Unemployed Scott pleaded guilty to causing wasteful employment of police and fraud by false representation.
The fraud charge related to the £95 insurance claim she made to get a new phone.
Lisa Green, defending, said that since the offence Scott had moved in with her parents and stopped taking drugs.
Sentencing her at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Anne Arnold said: ‘I do take a serious view of offences of this nature.’
Scott was put on a curfew. She will have to wear an electronic tag and stay at home between 3pm and 3am every day for the next three months.
She was also told to pay £95 to the insurance company for the phone and £500 in compensation to the police.
Detective Inspector Mark Tutton said: ‘Unfortunately, when reports of this nature are made, they take police officers’ time and resources away from investigating genuine offences.
‘Reducing offences of robbery is one of the current priorities for Hampshire Constabulary, and as such any report will be investigated thoroughly.’