A JUDGE said the only way to prevent a “prolific offender” from targeting vulnerable older men was to keep locking her up.

Judge Ray Singh was commenting as he imposed a 27-month prison sentence on Kirsty Rank, following her latest offences, earlier this year, only months after her release from past sentences.

Durham Crown Court heard her “modus operandi” was to supposedly befriend older, vulnerable men by offering to do household chores and run errands as a front to enable her to steal from them.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said she withdrew £1,830 over three days from one man’s account using his bank card after claiming she had paid £500 in and wanted to withdraw £40.

She also attacked him and went through his pockets on a trip to an atm having turned up at his home requesting money at 1am on April 1.

The attack took place when he realised he had forgotten his bank card and said he was returning home to collect it, but she did not believe him.

She then went to the home of another older man, a stranger, banging on a window, claiming she needed £10 to get home.

Having been given £5.50, she asked for a drink of water and then took the opportunity to sneakily steal a further £35.

The first victim who previously knew Rank, and from whom she had taken money in the past, said in a conciliatory statement he felt a “sense of disappointment” at her actions, having tried to assist her.

Rank, 29, of Newton Street, Ferryhill, admitted two counts of theft, plus attempted robbery.

The court heard she has 12 convictions for 27 offences.

Chris Baker, in mitigation, said many were similar in nature.

Mr Baker said a psychiatric report highlighted that her, “rather tragic background”, had an impact on her later life and led her into criminality.

Jailing her, Judge Ray Singh told Rank she has made the lives of her victims, “a complete and utter misery”.

“You prey on their frailties and age, as well as their generosity and vulnerability.

“I have no confidence you will stop offending on your release.”

Ferryhill-based Inspector Mike Sammut, said: “Kirsty Rank is a prolific offender and will often prey on vulnerable older men who are too embarrassed to come forward when they fall victim to her.

“It is reassuring to see the courts taking crimes against vulnerable members of the community seriously, and welcome the sentence imposed.”