AN opportunistic Ballarat thief targeted the most vulnerable members of the community, including the elderly, when she stole items like donation tins in a spate of recent thefts and deceptions, a court has heard.
Farmaz Razavishafa, 39, targeted the elderly, mothers with prams and anyone else she could distract when she began her offending in October last year.
Ballarat Magistrates Court on Tuesday heard the total value of the thefts and deceptions was close to $4000, with Razavishafa on two occasions stealing donation tins, including a Good Friday Appeal tin, from different businesses.
But her offending didn't stop at charity tins. The court heard on another occasion Razavishafa targeted an elderly woman who had been eating at McDonald's in Sturt Street.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Pepe Brown said Razavishafa stole the woman's bag from beside her, walking away with more than $1100 in cash.
The court heard she also targeted the Golden City Hotel, on two occasions stealing handbags from unsuspecting victims, including one who had left her table to get a drink.
Razavishafa pleaded guilty to a long list of charges including theft and obtaining property by deception.
A lawyer for Razavishafa said her client, who suffers from mental illness, had endured increased hardship in recent months due to her home burning down last year.
The lawyer said Razavishafa went on the thieving spree because she lacked money and had been using drugs, including methamphetamine.
Magistrate Cynthia Toose said she sympathised with Razavishafa's mental condition, but said it did not excuse the conduct.
"This was sustained, opportunistic, designed offending," Ms Toose said.
"It's just totally unacceptable behaviour.
"What about the mental health of the elderly ladies whose wallets have been taken."
Ms Toose will sentence Razavishafa on Tuesday afternoon.