The victim was in a supermarket shopping for her parents during lockdown when serial thief Ann Gavin (53) took the wallet with €850 inside.
Gavin went on to use the woman’s bank card to continue stealing from her, leaving her feeling “devastated.”
Gavin, a grandmother and mother-of-three was jailed for a year when she admitted multiple theft charges at Dublin District Court.
Judge Treasa Kelly suspended another four-month sentence.
The accused, of Ballybough Road, Dublin 3, pleaded guilty to charges including the theft at Tesco, Artane Castle on January 23, 2021 and using a card to make fraudulent purchases at shops later.
The court heard in a victim impact statement the woman said she had been out shopping for her parents during a Covid-19 lockdown.
The wallet had been a gift, was of sentimental value and it was “very distressing” to have it stolen, she said.
The woman was “absolutely devastated” that someone could so callously steal from her.
She then discovered this “complete stranger” had continued to use her card in an “attempt to cause as much financial damage” to her as possible.
The victim was now very nervous of strangers getting into her personal space as she was worried this would happen again. She continually checks her belongings when she goes out.
The judge noted that the theft had a big impact on the victim and serious consequences.
Gavin had 243 previous convictions, mostly for theft, between 1984 and 2019.
She had been getting into trouble because of her “on and off” drug habit for nearly 40 years, her solicitor Daniel Hanahoe said. She was now clean.
In separate thefts, Gavin used other stolen debit cards in shops, and snatched women’s purses or handbags at shops in locations including the Jervis Centre, Pavilions Shopping Centre, Swords, Merrion Centre, Dublin 4 and Frascati Centre, Blackrock.
She also shoplifted food, cosmetics, clothes and other goods.