A ROTHERHAM woman is believed to be one of the first convicted of scrap metal theft - a crime dominated by men.
Sarah Ramsell abused the emergency allocation of a Doncaster council home by tearing out copper piping and weighing it in as soon as she moved in.
The 32-year-old then went on to break into an empty house in Hyde Park to rip out more copper pipes, causing £2,000 worth of damage for the landlord.
Ramsell, now living with an aunt in Clover Walk, Bolton-on-Dearne, was given a suspended 12-month prison sentence when she appeared before Doncaster Crown Court.
She admitted theft from the St Leger Homes maisonette in Brodsworth House, St James Street, and burglary at the rented house in Whitburn Road between October 10 and 12.
James Byatt, prosecuting, said Ramsell was allocated one of two properties in Brodsworth House set aside for vulnerable people in need of emergency accommodation.
But when a housing officer visited, the door was found unlocked and the floors running with water because piping in the living room, bathroom and toilet had been stolen. A washing machine was also taken.
Damage was estimated at £1,100 and the property had to be taken out of use.
A friend had been evicted from the Whitburn Road house so Ramsell forced the back door and ripped out more copper piping, causing £2,000 of damage.
After her arrest she told the police she had sold the piping to a traveller for £120 - which was spent on heroin.
Sentencing, Mr Recorder Simon Jackson QC said she had caused a substantial amount of damage at the premises.
He also sentenced Ramsell to a nine-month drug rehabilitation order and alcohol treatment to deal with her addictions, and placed her on a curfew from 9pm to 7am for three months.