A persistent thief who was jailed after preying on elderly neighbours was a "devil with two faces", according to a relieved neighbour.

Gemma Davies in Dalmeny Way, Epsom, was last week was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court to 20 months behind bars.

Davies, 29, described as a "menace to the community" by police, pleaded guilty to 13 charges - five thefts, two burglaries, four counts of child neglect, one count of making off without paying, and a fraud.

The thefts included stealing purses when making phone calls at the homes of neighbours and stealing cash when collecting sponsorship money from a 94-year-old woman in West Street, Epsom in June.

She also snatched the purse of 75-year-old woman in a shop in Epsom High Street, Epsom on June 30.

ON MONDAY: Community "menace" from Epsom jailed after admitting burglary, theft, child neglect and fraud

A man in his 30s who lives with his family near to the flat which was occupied by Davies, said she started blighting the life of the community very shortly after she moved there in April.

He said: "From the beginning, she was begging for money from every property and sometimes she was going round asking for sponsorship money from people.

"Sometimes she just knocked on the door saying her phone didn’t work, she didn’t have any water or electricity in her house. 

"Then she would go into properties and steal wallets and mobile phones.  Sometimes she would put her hand inside people’s letterboxes in our communal area and take the letters."

The neighbour said many of the problems stemmed from Davies’ behaviour which he believed related to drugs - although the prison sentence she is now serving is not the result of any charges relating to illegal substances.

He said Davies stole from four different homes on Dalmeny Way alone: a wallet from a 65-year-old woman’s house, two mobile phones and £85 cash.

He added: "She always targeted the older people.

"Sometimes you could see on her face that she looked like a devil. 

"She was a horrible woman and a liar. 

"She had two faces.  One day she was happy and another day you didn’t even want to say hello to her. 

"She was very rude to everyone."

He added: "She was always using mini cabs even when she didn’t have the money. 

"She would run inside the house saying she would get the money but then wouldn’t answer the door and the mini cab driver would call the police. 

"She stole a wallet from a mini cab driver."

The man said Davies had moved to Epsom from Chessington, where she had also been embroiled in "troubles".

He said he heard she had a challenging background - having been raised by one parent, having problems with drugs from an early age and issues at school.

The neighbour said Davies’ incarceration has brought relief to the residents of Dalmeny Way.

"This area has always been very quiet. 

"Since she moved in we have had quite a lot of problems. 

"Most of the people felt insecure.  You had to make sure you locked your house to put out the rubbish," he said.

"People were worried about the kids playing outside as strange people were coming in and out of her property.

"Now everything is quiet."

He said that while Davies was on bail for the offences she had been charged with, the police had to be called again and she was then remanded in custody.

Other neighbours living on the road said Surrey Police’s community officers had visited them in May with anti-social behaviour charts, asking them to record any offensive behaviour.

PC Lisa Betchley, who investigated the case, said: "Gemma Davies has been nothing short of a menace to the community in the short time she has lived there.

"Taking advantage of the goodwill of her neighbours who attempted to help her after she had moved in, and targeting the elderly were particularly callous acts on her part.

"It cannot be underestimated the impact these sort of offences can have on residents living in a close-knit neighbourhood which is why we took steps to bring Davies to justice.

"I hope this reassures the public that we will act when faced with challenging individuals and we would encouraging anyone else faced with similar situations to report matters in confidence."

Do you know Gemma Davies? Get in touch with Hardeep Matharu by emailing hmatharu@london.newsquest.co.uk.