TWO cousins who carried out purse snatches from mainly elderly shoppers in Kenilworth and Stratford town centres have been jailed.
Ivalina Nikolaeva and Grafinya Vasileva pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to five charges of theft and breaching the suspended sentences they had been given by magistrates following other thefts in Redditch in Guildford.
Nikolaeva, 19, and Vasileva, 25, both of Croydon, Surrey, were jailed for 16 months.
All five of the offences by the Bulgarian nationals involved the thefts of purses on December 4 last year from women shoppers – the first two committed in Kenilworth and the other three in Stratford.
Prosecutor James Bruce said they first targeted a retired woman in a Kenilworth shop.
One jostled her to distract her while the other took her purse from her handbag – and her bank card was later used to withdraw £200 in cash.
Their victim did not realise her purse, which had also contained £34 in cash and £20 in store vouchers, was missing until she was at the check-out.
Another Kenilworth shopper, a housewife, was surrounded by the two cousins and a third unknown accomplice, and while she was being distracted her purse containing £80 was taken.
Fortunately she realised it was gone in time to call her bank to cancel her credit card before it was used in an attempt to withdraw cash.
Nikolaeva and Vasileva then moved on to Stratford where they first targeted a retired grandmother by distracting her while one of them took her purse from her handbag which was hanging from the pram she was pushing.
Another retired woman was then surrounded in the cosmetics aisle of Poundland.
They took her purse containing £80, bank card and driving licence.
The cousins and their unknown accomplice then used the same method to steal another pensioner’s purse with at least £100 and a bank card, which was then used to withdraw £300.
The following day Nikolaeva and Vasileva were involved in a similar spree in Redditch town centre, but were caught – and in February both were given suspended custodial sentences of 14 weeks, which they were also ordered to serve.
Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, defending, said “Not only is their home address in Croydon, but on December 4 they were in two different Warwickshire towns, and the next day one town in Worcestershire, and then in Surrey in September.”
He added Vasileva’s account was she needed money to help support her six children, but Nikolaeva’s reason for being involved was to support her love of buying of consumer goods.