A pickpocket has been jailed after stealing purses from women as they shopped in Huddersfield.

Bulgarian national Elenora Stancheva claimed she had come to the UK to earn a living to support her young child.

But instead the teenager went on a crime spree, targeting four women in stores in the town in just two days.

While she was on bail for the thefts she moved on to London and was jailed after carrying out an identical scam there.

Appearing at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court via a video link from New Hall Prison in Flockton, the 19-year-old pleaded guilty to four thefts from a person.

Stancheva, of Willow Lane East, Fartown, targeted female customers of Topshop in the Kingsgate Shopping Centre twice.

On February 13 the first victim, Tracey Hazell, was in the store trying on some shoes.

Kingsgate Shopping Centre, King Street, Huddersfield
Kingsgate Shopping Centre, King Street, Huddersfield

Jill Seddon, prosecuting, said: “She had her handbag on the floor and the defendant sat down next to her on the stools. Stancheva dropped clothing over the handbag and, when she picked the clothing back up, she placed her hand into the handbag and the purse was stolen.”

Carolyn Huckley also fell victim to Stancheva the same day inside the store and the incident was captured on CCTV footage.

The following day Mary Mannion was targeted as she shopped in The Big Outlet Store in New Street.

Mrs Seddon said: “The defendant followed the complainant, placed her hand into her handbag and removed her purse.

“The complainant felt the item being taken, confronted the defendant and the purse was handed back.”

On February 15 Stancheva was arrested after dipping her hand into the handbag of Lesley Clarke as she shopped in BHS in The Shambles.

Kirklees Magistrates' Court, Huddersfield
Kirklees Magistrates' Court, Huddersfield

Mrs Seddon told magistrates: “She was charged and bailed to attend this court on March 31. “In the intervening period she left the area and went to London.

“She was arrested for more or less the same set of offending and on March 8 was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody.”

Aftaab Hussain, mitigating, said that there was no planning behind his client’s offending and it was “opportunistic”.

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He told magistrates: “She’s a Bulgarian national and had travelled to the UK in order to study and work. She has a small child in Bulgaria and travelled here to support her child.”

Magistrates jailed her for 26 weeks and ordered her to pay £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge.

Bench chairman Wayne Perriman told her: “This is a spree of offending in Huddersfield over a two-day period. Whilst we’ve heard that there was no planning, we cannot agree that.”