Woman snatched Sheffield shoppers’ handbags

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A WOMAN with a drug problem snatched handbags from shoppers’ trolleys in three different stores, a court heard.

Megan Rice, of Sothall, Sheffield, even sent one shopper spinning to the ground as she grabbed a car door to try to stop the thief driving off with her handbag.

Elderly Pauline Major had been shopping for groceries in Sainsbury’s, Dronfield, on August 12 when she spotted her handbag was missing - and noticed Rice walking towards the exit carrying it.

Helen Griffiths, prosecuting, told magistrates: “She shouted ‘Hey’ to the defendant who walked outside and got into the driver’s seat of a vehicle.

“The complainant grabbed the handle of the open door but the defendant managed to slam the door shut.”

A doctor witnessed the incident but was unable to stop 42-year-old Rice from driving off.

Mrs Major tumbled to the ground, grazing her knee, elbow and knuckles.

Rice was traced by police and showed officers where she had dumped the bag after taking £30 cash from it.

“She said she couldn’t remember the lady holding on to the door of the car,” said Mrs Griffiths.

Police asked Rice about a similar offence the previous day at a store in Handsworth, in which a bag was stolen from a woman in her 80s. Victim Doreen Falkinder had also left her bag in an unattended trolley. The bag and contents, worth £268, were not recovered.

“Both ladies found the offences very distressing and it also caused them inconvenience,” added Mrs Griffiths.

Rice, of Inglewood Avenue, Sothall, admitted both thefts and asked for a similar offence at Tesco, Chesterfield, to be considered.

She had a string of previous convictions for dishonesty and was on a community order at the time of the thefts.

Sentence was adjourned until September 24 for probation service reports.

“She hasn’t picked out vulnerable victims. She has taken handbags while trolleys were unattended,” said Felicity Clarke, for Rice.

Rice fell ill last year and had to give up work, then ‘spiralled back into drug abuse’. She was now on methadone.