A landlady sparked a huge police operation after a staging a fake heist on her social club inspired by a hit television show. Scores of special officers and a police helicopter were scrambled to the Big Club in Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside, after a cleaner found Kim Collins bound and gagged inside. The 42-year-old was tied to a chair with tape over her mouth, cable ties around her wrists and cuts to her arms and legs. She told the terrified cleaner a masked man had woken her in the night and tied her up before he snorted a bag of cocaine, emptied the safe and disappeared. But after detectives found holes in her story, she admitted to making the whole thing up to try to convince her boyfriend and business partner that they should sell the club and move away. And Collins, of Station Road, Boldon Colliery, claimed inspiration for the bizarre plan from watching CSI programmes.
She pleaded guilty to wasting police time and possessing a Class A drug when she appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court. Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said: “Last November, she called police to say she was receiving abusive letters at the club which threatened to kill her. “They were sent for forensic tests but nothing came back, though she said the letters were still being sent. Then on June 17, the police were called by the cleaner, who said she had found Collins tied up with a bag of cocaine near her. “Collins had told her that someone had been in the loft waiting for her.” Mr Anderson told the court that 12 officers went to the club and were told by Collins that the intruder might still be there. A police dog team and scene of crime officers were sent to the scene and a helicopter scrambled to the area.
He added: “She had cuts to her arms and legs and said the man had cut her and ran the knife across her body. She was taken to hospital for treatment. The defendant told the Major Crime Team that she had been asleep in bed when a man had come in and dragged her along the corridor to turn off the alarm and black out the security cameras before tying her up.” But investigations revealed that the alarm had been deactivated just 40 minutes before the cleaner turned up and CCTV from outside the club didn’t show anyone else entering. Her saliva was found on the cable ties that had been used to bind her wrists and a pathologist said the injuries could have been self-inflicted. The court heard that Collins found a bag of cocaine in the club the night before and put it in the safe with the intention of telling the police about it later. She said the masked raider had brought it as an excuse for having it in the club.
Collins was arrested in September and admitted she concocted the tale because she wanted to leave the club. Mr Anderson added: “She said takings were down and she wanted out. She said she wanted to show her partner how bad things were
so that he would agree to sell up, and so started to send herself the letters. “When that didn’t work, she came up with the plan to stage a break-in after watching CSI. She said she cut herself, tied her legs together then used her mouth to tie the cable ties before putting gaffer tape over her mouth and waiting for the cleaner. More than £1,000 was spent on the investigation but it is harder to quantify what the total cost was including launching the helicopter and the man hours put in.” David Forrester, defending, said: “This lady clearly thought this was a good idea in the short term but hadn’t realised how the police would deal with it.” Magistrates adjourned the case until November 16 for Collins to be interviewed by a community psychiatric nurse and be interviewed by the probation service. She was granted unconditional bail until then.