A 'brazen' con woman ripped a dress in Primark and tried to fool cashiers into giving her a refund, a court has heard.
Elizabeth Fowler, 36, claimed she needed the £18 for food because she was having problems with Universal Credit .
However, after being caught by workers at the mega store in Birmingham High Street, she tested positive for heroin.
The mum, from Haigh Crescent, Erdington, attempted the 'amateurish' con on Monday, January 13.
Birmingham Magistrates' Court heard that she picked up the dress from the first floor before taking it to the fitting room and ripped it, and then attempted to return the dress to two separate cashiers.
Prosecutor Preena Mistry said: "She proceeded straight to the first floor collected the dress and took it to the fitting room. She was in the fitting room for about five minutes.
"She emerged and headed to the ground floor tills attempting to return the dress.
"Staff refused a refund. At this point she then proceeds to the first floor tills and attempts to get a refund there which is also refused.
"She is then detained by security officers. The damage caused was a tear to the underarm of the dress.
"The defendant was interviewed and admitted it. She said she had no money and was desperate for food.
"She said she wasn't dependant on drugs but she was tested and tested positive for heroin. She was very sorry for her actions."
Fowler admitted one charge of criminal damage and one of fraud at a hearing on Thursday, March 5.
She was handed a community order and told to pay £18 in compensation to Primark, as well as a £90 victim surcharge.
Fowler must complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity as part of her 12-month community order and adhere to a six-week curfew between the hours of 8pm and 7am.
Ray McVeighty, defending, said: "She lives in rented accommodation from the council in Erdington. She has a son aged four and is having various difficulties from a previous relationship.
"She is on benefits and has been moved from one benefit to Universal Credit. This, as with many others, has caused her difficulties.
"This offence in every way has the hallmarks of spontaneity. She has gone in, it's a very amateurish job. Of course the shop had cameras. She was brazen and of course they rumbled her very quickly."
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