Police are hunting a woman who stole money from a vulnerable man in South Tyneside.
Louise Pittendreigh is the subject of an arrest warrant after she failed to turn up at South Tyneside Magistrates Court to face a theft charge.
Pittendreigh, 28, of Boldon Lane, South Shields, stole the cash from a vulnerable man after befriending him and magistrates heard she has previous convictions for similar offences.
The court heard the 57-year-old victim suffers from mental and physical problems but Pittendreigh stole £140 from him after he had been given it by his brother.
Brian Payne, prosecuting, said: “The defendant in this case had known the victim on and off for about nine years.
“She would visit him occasionally in his flat to sit and chat with him and, during one visit, the victim’s brother turned up to give the victim £200 cash.
“Ms Pittendreigh saw this transaction and saw the victim put the £200 in his wallet. He then put the wallet under his mattress.”
He added: “When the victim checked the money later, he found £140 was missing.”
Mr Payne said Pittendreigh probably took the money when the victim went to the toilet.
He added: “There was a text message later from Pittendreigh to the victim. In it she says she didn’t take the money, but was given it.
“The victim says otherwise. Pittendreigh has two previous convictions for similar offences.
“In 2014 she was convicted of theft by taking a purse from a house.
“A year earlier, she had another conviction for theft when she befriended the victim before taking a bank card and a mobile phone.
“The card was later used to withdraw funds from the victim’s account.”
Pittendreigh denied theft at an earlier hearing.
She was due to stand trial but did not turn up.
Charlton Carr, defending, said he could offer no explanation for his client not being at court.
The magistrates found the case proved in her absence.
A warrant was then issued for Pittendreigh’s arrest.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said it had still to be executed.