A THIEF who preyed on vulnerable elderly shoppers has been jailed.
Elena Venkova, 20, of Halifax Old Road, Birkby, took purses from the bags of women over 60 to help pay for her family to live, a court heard.
Bulgarian Venkova dipped into the bags of three women aged 63, 81, and 70-years-old who were out shopping in Woolshops, Halifax.
She then ditched the purses - after emptying them of their cash - in storage drawers at Clinton Cards.
Venkova committed three offences in February this year before she was caught by police officers.
Bradford Crown Court heard that the first offence took place on February 17.
A 63-year-old woman was out shopping in River Island, Halifax, when she noticed Venkova moving very near to her then moving away again.
It was only later that the woman noticed her purse containing £210 had gone missing from her bag.
CCTV footage obtained by the police showed Venkova discarding the purse in a drawer in Clinton Cards.
Then on February 21, Venkova robbed an 81-year-old woman who was out shopping with a friend in Marks and Spencer.
She jostled the two women and they joked about how rude she was and the friend even asked: “Are you trying to rob us?”
It was only later that the woman realised she actually had been robbed and her purse containing £24 was missing.
Again Venkova was seen on CCTV dumping the purse in storage drawers at Clinton Cards.
Her final theft came on February 25, again at Woolshops, but this time a 70-year-old woman was the victim.
Venkova stole her purse containing £105 but this time she dumped it in a bin saying she thought police were after her.
She was arrested and made full admissions when interviewed by police.
Judge Christopher Batty, sentencing Venkova who wept in the dock, said: “You shouldn’t be there. You have sought to look after your family by, unfortunately, committing crime and it’s crime against the elderly - people who have worked all their lives.
He sentenced her to 20 weeks in custody.
Venkova, via an interpretor, said : “Never will I do that again.”