first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Elizabeth Bruce stole £5,500 from pupils at a private boarding school Elizabeth Bruce stole £5,500 from pupils at a private boarding schoolCredit: Portsmouth News/Solent News & Photo Agency Simon Merriam, the school bursar, said in a statement read in court: “This set of incidents has had a huge impact on the boarding community at St John’s.”It led to boarders not trusting each other.”He added: “We’re 25 boarders down as things stand and whilst this is not all directly-related to the thefts we know they have contributed.”Our reputation overseas has very much been damaged.”The school’s website states it currently has around 125 boarders.When police searched Bruce’s home they found a Pandora bracelet and a purse belonging to young pupils. One girl was a victim of Bruce’s actions four times and another girl, 14, was left upset and struggled to trust those she boarded with after a purse her family gave her as a Christmas present was stolen by Bruce.In a statement she said: “(Bruce) going through my personal belongings and taking them made me feel angry and upset.”Overseas boarders pay £26,295-a-year at St John’s. Around 600 pupils study between Reception and Year 13.Robert Reid, prosecuting, said: “During a period of time between July 2014 and March 2016 the school was experiencing a problem in relation to thefts of property with a result that the police on February 7 set up a covert camera to try and establish who was responsible.”They left a purse containing £60, covered by a covert camera, and they saw this defendant come across the purse and go into it wearing gloves and she was arrested on suspicion of theft.”Bruce, who worked for 20 years at the school which was established in 1908, was handed an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 15 months at Portsmouth Crown Court.Recorder John Williams ordered her to pay £842 compensation and complete 30 days of rehabilitation along with 120 hours of unpaid work.Sentencing, the judge said: “The series of offences would have no doubt continued.”James Caldwell, mitigating for Bruce, said she was willing to do unpaid work. Bruce said “thank you” as she was sentenced.center_img A private boarding school bursar has blamed a string of thefts by a cleaner for damaging its reputation abroad and contributing to a fall in admissions.Elizabeth Bruce stole cash, Chinese currency, purses, clothes shop vouchers and a Pandora bracelet from pupils in a string of thefts at the £26,295-a-year St John’s College, in Southsea, Hants.The 18-month stealing spree that totalled £5,500 was finally ended after police caught Bruce rifling through a planted purse on a covert camera.Bruce, 52, of Southsea, Hants, admitted 15 thefts and confessed to another 19 that were taken into consideration in court. The entrance to St John's College, in Southsea The entrance to St John’s College, in SouthseaCredit:Julian Pottage/Alamy Stock Photolast_img