A WOMAN pick-pocket who preys on the elderly later boasted to police that she was good at it.
Joanne Roberts (44) targeted elderly people who put their bags on trolleys in supermarkets.
She had an enormous number of previous convictions for doing precisely the same thing, Mold Crown Court was told on Thursday (March 11).
Roberts, a heroin addict who is now on an alternative methadone prescription, admitted theft and attempted theft and being in breach of two earlier suspended prison sentences.
The judge, Mr Recorder Winston Roddick QC, said that a further suspended sentence in her case would be a waste of him and jailed her for 12 months.
The court heard how Roberts, of Nevin Road in Blacon, Chester, travelled to Flint last November and stole £100 from a woman at the Iceland Store in Flint.
A couple of weeks later she tried the same thing at the Asda store in Wrexham but left when she realised she was being watched.
Prosecutor Emmalyne Downing told how a woman aged 62 withdrew £100 in cash, placed it in her purse and then left her bag hanging on the back of her trolley as she went shopping in Iceland, Flint.
She recalled seeing the defendant leaning in between her and the trolley at one point.
An examination of the CCTV showed her leaning over a number of times to look into the bag.
When the victim went to pay for her shopping, she discovered that her money had been taken from her purse.
The incident had made the victim very sad and weepy and she was now nervous and wary in public places.
She was unable to face crowds and now only went out with other people.
They money had been her pension for the week and she ended up paying for her shopping on credit card on which she had to pay interest.
In November, Roberts was in Asda, Wrexham, and was spotted by an off-duty police officer.
He recognised her as wanted by the police and while he waited for an officer who was on duty he kept watch.
Roberts was seen standing behind a frail lady in her 70s or 80s whose bag was on top of her shopping inside a trolley.
"She was seen to slip her hand into the bag and look inside while the lady had her back to her.
"Roberts then chatted to the lady, reached for an item for her and handed it to her, but then left the store, abandoning her own trolley in a side aisle.
She was not arrested until December 12 when she told police "I am good at what I do but I'm not proud of it."
Roberts gave a no comment interview.
Andrew Green, defending, said that his client's offending had slowed down considerably.
She now had a more stable life with accommodation of her own where she was able to support her daughter, and she was also on a methadone prescription.
If she was in custody for more than 13 weeks she would lose her accommodation, he said.
Mr Recorder Roddick said that elderly people were particularly vulnerable to such offences when they were out shopping.
At Flint, Roberts had stolen her victim's pension after "professionally weighing up your chances to prey on her and take £100."
At Wrexham she had again targeted elderly people and later told police she was good at it.
Roberts, he said, had 237 previous convictions between 1977 and 2009 which included countless convictions for theft.
He said that it would take to long to go through her full criminal history but her character and previous convictions meant that an immediate prison sentence was inevitable.