A thief who targeted a grandmother strolling with her granddaughter has been jailed a month after stealing medication from another elderly victim.

Vasilka Stancheva, 22, of Edmonton, Enfield, was spotted lurking behind the grandmother outside Oxford Circus station at 5.20pm on Wednesday 15 June.

Plain clothed officers caught her red-handed using a leather coat and blue hat as cover, lifting it to hide her right hand as she rooted around in the woman’s rucksack.

Within 24 hours she had been charged with attempted theft, put in front of Westminster Magistrates Court and sentenced to 28 days in jail.

She had already been caught red-handed by British Transport Police officers a month earlier, lurking behind another elderly woman at Tottenham Court Road.

They witnessed her using the same tactic to conceal her hand sticking into the woman’s rucksack, stealing a gold purse with medication inside.

The purse and medication were promptly returned to the victim.

For that offence, she was handed £369 in fines by the court.

Inspector Sharon Turner, of the Priority Crime Taskforce said: “It’s a common tactic for pickpockets to use bags, umbrellas and any clothing to block people’s view as they root around the belongings of an unaware victim.

“These criminals operate in large crowds, often close to major stations, and look to steal from anyone they believe is distracted.

“We have plain clothed officers regularly patrolling across London who are trained to spot this suspicious behaviour.

“For the public, simply just being wary that thieves are operating can make their job that much harder and help us tackle this offending.”

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