A shopper was horrified when she got to the check-out and discovered her purse was missing.
Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that after the incident in the Wilko store in Falkirk High Street on April 16, security staff checked CCTV footage and saw Elaine Bell (44) removing it from the woman’s handbag, which was in her trolley, and leaving by a side door leading into the Howgate.
While efforts were made to trace Bell in the busy mall, a cleaner found a purse in a toilet and handed it in. It was then confirmed it belonged to the woman and £210 in cash was gone.
The court heard the camera footage showed Bell’s unsuspecting victim entering the store, putting her handbag in the trolley and starting her shopping. But it also showed Bell following the woman around, and when she stopped in the garden aisle, turning her back on the trolley and her handbag as she did so, Bell was seen taking the purse.
On April 26, Bell, whose address in court last Thursday was given as 259 Lomond Drive, Langlees, was seen in the Howgate again. This time police were called and she was arrested. When she was charged, she told officers she was “sorry”.
Defence lawyer Dick Sandeman said that before Bell, who admitted previous convictions, had carried out the theft she had not re-offended since 2010. He said that Bell was in receipt of benefits and was “more than happy” to pay the money back in instalments as part of a community payback order. Mr Sandeman also told the court Bell is not fit enough however to carry out any unpaid work.
Sheriff Derek Livingston warned Bell it was only because she had not committed any crimes since 2010 that she was not being sent to jail. He told her: “The courts take exception to this sort of theft. You obviously knew what you were doing.”
Bell was placed on a supervised community order for two years, told to pay £210 compensation at £10 a week and placed on a restriction of liberty order for three months.