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.
On Tuesday, the Ballarat Magistrates Court heard the total value of the thefts and deceptions was about $4000, with Razavishafa stealing donation tins on two occasions, including a Good Friday Appeal tin, from different businesses.
Pleading guilty to more than 20 charges including theft, Razavishafa was jailed for at least nine months.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Pepe Brown said Razavishafa also targeted an elderly woman who had been eating at McDonald’s in Sturt Street.
Senior Constable Brown said Razavishafa stole the woman’s bag, 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.
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 jailed Razavishafa for a total of 15 months, with a non-parole period of nine months.
She has already served 19 days in pre-sentence detention.