Debit card was left behind in faulty machine and woman then stole it in ‘nasty’ pre-Christmas offence

Ballymena Courthouse6
Ballymena Courthouse

A woman left her debit card in a machine after a fault and after leaving a store to go to her car to get cash the card was then stolen by another woman and used in a number of contactless transactions.

Romanian national Ana Maria Lucaciu (29), of Queen Street, Ballymena, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court on Thursday August 9 and pleaded guilty to one theft charge and six of fraud by false representation.

The defendant was spotted on CCTV removing the card and the card was then used to get £50 worth of goods in early December last year.

The court heard after several contactless payments over two days a mechanism kicked in and the defendant was unable to use it despite some attempts.

The court heard the defendant, who had a clear record, told police that at the time she was going through a “difficult time”.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said it was an “opportunist crime” and the money was spent on Lucaciu’s children in the run up to Christmas.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he could give credit for the guilty plea and clear record but he added: “It’s quite a nasty offence to take somebody’s card they have left behind and use it”.

He fined the defendant £150 and gave her a one year conditional discharge and ordered her to pay back £50.

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