Purse thief jailed

PUBLISHED: 14:20 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

A POLISH traveller who stole purses from women shoppers, mainly targeting elderly victims, has been jailed and banned from Hertfordshire by an anti-social behaviour order. The question of whether Izabela Roschke, 31, will be deported at the end of her 15-

A POLISH traveller who stole purses from women shoppers, mainly targeting elderly victims, has been jailed and banned from Hertfordshire by an anti-social behaviour order.

The question of whether Izabela Roschke, 31, will be deported at the end of her 15-month sentence will be decided at a hearing next month.

She sobbed as she pleaded with a judge through her interpreter not to jail her and part her from her children.

Roschke, who lived in Ilford, Essex, pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and asked for six other thefts to be taken into consideration.

Charles Ingham, prosecuting at Luton Crown Court on Friday, said her offending was typical of a crime problem affecting Hertfordshire.

It has become so bad that shoppers are being given notices warning them to be aware.

Mr Ingham said Roschke only took purses, removed the cash and discarded any other property which meant it would be hard to link the offences to her.

On April 7 she came to Hitchin with another woman, one acting as a shield while the other stole, he alleged.

In the space of an hour police received reports from three women, one aged 73 and another 83, who had had their purses stolen in the market, Marks and Spencer's food shop and a charity shop.

As a result CCTV footage was studied and a description of two suspicious looking women was circulated.

About half a hour later two plain clothed police officers in Stevenage saw them and kept watch.

They were observing elderly shoppers in Queensway, said Mr Ingham, and saw a 69-year-old woman pushing her blind husband in a wheelchair. Her handbag was hanging from the handle.

"The officers saw them around the wheelchair, but such was the dexterity with which the crime was committed that they did not see the offence committed," said Mr Ingham.

They were then seen to go into Burger King and the money - £220 - was passed to a man. The women left by a rear exit and the purse was discarded. They were arrested shortly after.

Three days earlier, Roschke went to Bishops Stortford and "dipped" the bags of three women, stealing a total of £371.

The court heard that she came to this country early last year with her two children, now aged 10 and 12. She is from the Roma travellers and had been living in Poland.

In March last year she was convicted of shoplifting in Stevenage and in April convicted of attempting to steal a purse in Southend.

Sultana Tafador, defending, said: "She is the sole carer for her two children.

"She deeply regrets her actions and by pleading guilty the victims have not had to give evidence."

Judge Jeffrey Burke QC told Roschke: "I am touched by your apology and obvious distress but there needs to be a substantial sentence because these kinds of offences cause enormous distress.


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