A THIEF stole birthday money given to an elderly lady by her dead sister after she passed away during a crime spree targeting OAPs.

Mum Delyth Jones picked on elderly women as they shopped in supermarkets, stealing purses, phones and handbags left in trolleys.

The thefts made the shoppers feel “vulnerable and lacking in confidence”.

In one instance, the 44-year-old took £60 cash belonging to a pensioner in Aldi, on Bevois Valley Road, which had been given to her by her deceased sister.

In a statement read to Southampton Crown Court, the victim said: “This money was taken from me. I just wanted to buy myself a final gift from my sister but now I cannot.”

She added: “I lost my sister in July this year and before this time she would always take me shopping.

“I now feel vulnerable. I think to myself ‘why me?’ Was it something I did? I’m still tearful thinking about what she did and have not been back to Aldi since.

In total, Jones stole items belonging to six ladies at dates in October and November at supermarkets including Aldi and Tesco, in Bursledon.

Prosecutor Lucy Conroy told the court that another victim saw Jones following her in Tesco at Bursledon before realising her purse had been stolen. Miss Conroy said on the same day Jones was also caught with another victim’s phone case in Tesco.

She added that the elderly woman “now feels sick and scared to go shopping”.

“She has been left frightened and has now become more security concious,” said Miss Connery.

Jones was also appearing to be sentenced for breaching a suspended sentence ordered by Berkshire Magistrates’ Court for two further thefts.

Her other offences included fraud, after she stole a bank card and used it to buy bingo cards from Co-op, in Hightown, and failing to answer bail.

She admitted to all offences, as well as the six charges of theft.

Thomas Evans, mitigating, said Jones did not intentionally target older women but only people who left their purses and handbags unattended in supermarkets.

The court heard that she came to Southampton after being threatened by someone in Berkshire and had been using drugs for a number of years.

In sentencings Jones, Judge Christopher Parker QC said the offences were life-changing for those elderly people involved.

Jones, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment.