Jailed: Prolific pickpocket targeted shoppers and stole hundreds at Bullring shopping centre
A serial pickpocket who targeted shoppers in Birmingham city centre and stole hundreds of pounds in cash has been jailed.
Melania Urmuz was sentenced to a year in prison at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on Monday after pleading guilty to two charges of theft and 13 charges of attempted theft from a person.
Urmuz, 52, of no fixed address, was known to target shoppers at stores including TKMaxx at the Bullring shopping centre, where on November 18 she stole a purse containing £400 cash from a woman.
She returned to the store on November 24 and during a 25 minute time frame attempted to steal from a further eight victims, before making off with a purse containing another £400.
On November 25, she struck TKMaxx again but was recognised by members of staff who were quick to phone the police.
Officers specialising in catching pickpockets attended the scene where they found Urmuz and arrested her.
Police then reviewed CCTV footage which showed her attempting to steal from another five victims in just seven minutes.
Officers worked through the night to collect more CCTV footage and other evidence.
Urmuz initially denied she had tried to steal from anyone, saying she was trying to "close their bags up".
However, she was charged with 15 theft and attempted theft offences and was remanded to appear at court where she pleaded guilty to all counts.
Urmuz was previously jailed for 40 weeks in June after admitting 13 attempted pickpocket offences in under an hour at the Primark store in Birmingham city centre.
She pleaded guilty to all counts and was released from prison in November after serving half of her sentence.
She was therefore recalled to prison for breaching the terms of her licence for the June offences.
PC Mat Evans, city centre neighbourhood officer for West Midlands Police, said: "This was a fantastic outcome as a result of a combination of brilliant observation skills from TK Maxx staff and a swift reaction from our pickpocket team.
"Urmuz is a prolific professional pickpocket and her being sent to jail will keep the people of Birmingham safe over Christmas and beyond. Getting her off the streets has certainly filled me with festive cheer.
"Over the last six months a dedicated team of officers across Birmingham have been coordinating their efforts to tackle pickpockets as part of Operation Willowvale.
"Their work has lead to the arrest of dozens of professional pickpockets, pushing detection rates up, and crime rates down. This recent arrest is just another example of their hard work."