Lifeline not safe from serial thief

By BRIGID SIMEONI

STEALING money from Lifeline is the kind of act that begs the question: How low can you go?

The charity clothing store was just one of seven targets serial thief Jay Maree Harmer, 30, preyed on in a stealing spree.

Ipswich Magistrates Court was told Harmer was back on drugs when she swiped $190 from the till at Inala Lifeline on December 8 after distracting an elderly volunteer.

In another bold theft, Harmer was at work when she pinched a wallet from a customer's trolley, used a Visa card to withdraw $100 cash at the register and forged the signature on the receipt.

Wearing a grey jumper, the Inala woman remained quiet in the corner of the dock as details of her thefts, spanning a few weeks, were relayed.

Her dishonesty earned her a jail sentence and an order to pay more than $1000 compensation for various sums of stolen cash.

Following the Lifeline theft, she used a similar method to distract an employee at an Inala gift shop and took $110 from the register.

Other unsuspecting victims had their purses and bags pinched. Harmer pocketed cash along with mobile phones, the court was told.

Yesterday Harmer pleaded guilty to seven counts of stealing and one of fraud, all from December last year.

Defence lawyer Bruce Shaw said his client had a drug habit dating back to 1995 and had dabbled in heroin and amphetamines.

After addressing her addiction Harmer kept of trouble for 18 months before a relapse in November, the court was told.

Mr Shaw said his client was using ice at the time and offended after getting back in the drug scene.

Harmer was working as a check-out operator when she stole a customer's wallet from a trolley during a shift on December 20, withdrew $100 cash and forced the signature on the receipt.

Prosecutor Sergeant Matt Donnelly said the customer became suspicious Harmer had taken her wallet after she discovered it was gone and Harmer offered to pay for her groceries.

When questioned Harmer eventually admitted withdrawing the cash and said she planned to use the money to buy groceries after her shift, Sgt Donnelly said.

When Harmer took another woman's purse, she later told police she threw it away after realising there was no cash inside, the court was told.

Harmer appeared in custody yesterday as she was already serving a sentence after having her parole revoked in January.

The court was told she had an extensive criminal record including similar offences.

Mr Shaw said his client admitted her behaviour to police and pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Acting Magistrate Alan Taylor imposed nine months jail and set a parole eligibility date at June 23, to coincide with her current parole release date.

Mr Taylor noted for about 18 months after Harmer's last relapse she was able to deal with her drug addiction and kept away from offending.



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