A SNEAK thief who stole thousands of euro in cash and property from handbags, purses and wallets during a six month crime spree was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.
Lorraine Roche, aged 24, who has an address at Little Gerald Griffin Street, pleaded guilty to a total of 16 theft charges relating to offences on dates between April 4, last and October 12.
Limerick Court was told the mother-of-one had stolen cash and property worth a total of almost €3,500 in an effort to fund a drug addiction.
The offences happened at a variety of locations across the city including at hotels, pubs, cafes, shopping centres and at several fashion retailers.
On one occasion Ms Roche stole jewellery worth €1,500 from a woman’s handbag at the Limerick City Gallery of Art and the court heard that when she was arrested and charged she told gardai she was sorry and that she had not intended stealing from the woman’s bag but that her “instincts took over”.
Sergeant Donal Cronin said some of the property stolen by Ms Roche was recovered but that a considerable amount was not.
He said Ms Roche, who also pleaded guilty to failing to appear in court on five separate occasions, did not have any previous convictions prior to beginning the crime spree.
Solicitor Ted McCarthy said his client has a serious drug addiction but added that since she entered custody earlier this month she has been placed on a Methadone programme and is addressing her drug problems.
“She has had time to reflect on matters and it has woken her up,” he said describing the offences as “sneak thefts”.
Imposing sentence Judge Eugene O’Kelly said Ms Roche was a menace to anybody who was going out in Limerick with a handbag or wallet.
Referring to the contents of a handwritten letter from the accused in which she appealed for leniency as her young daughter is missing her, the judge said that while he appreciated her predicament he had to “balance that with the security and safety of the people she has been preying on”.
He said if he released Ms Roche it was likely her criminal behaviour would continue and that “every handbag and wallet holder won’t be safe”.
The judge imposed consecutive prison sentences totalling 12 months in relation to the theft offences and he imposed prison sentences totalling four weeks in relation to her non-attendance in court on dates on May, July, September and October.
Judge O’Kelly added that he hopes that Ms Roche takes advantage of the care she is offered while in prison.