A PREDATORY burglar who preyed on vulnerable pensioners to feed her cocaine addiction has been spared prison.

Louise Turnbull, 23, committed the first burglary last September when she targeted the home of an elderly woman who she knew.

The thief talked her way into the 83-year-old’s ​home before spending an hour rifling through her belongings in search of money.

She eventually made off with details from the pensioner’s bank card and a mobile phone belonging to her son, who Turnbull also knew.

But she was not satisfied by her haul and the very next day the thief targeted the home of a 62-year-old disabled man who used to be her neighbour.

She took the man’s wallet from a shelf, but he grabbed it back and asked her to leave.

She was arrested and released on bail, but over the coming weeks she was again accused of talking her way into the homes of pensioners across Gateshead in a bid to steal cash.

Her last offence took place in December when she turned up on the doorstep of an 84-year-old man’s address in floods of tears.

The kind-hearted pensioner invited her in after she told him how she had been thrown out by her boyfriend, but the cocaine addict instead stole £40 from his wallet.

Turnbull, of Foster Drive, Gateshead, was charged with a string of burglaries stretching over a three-month period.

She admitted five counts of burglary and has been given two years custody, suspended for two years.

Detective Constable Michael Saunders said: “Her motive was to target elderly or disabled people who she could easily confuse and take advantage of. Once inside she would take any opportunity she could to steal from them. Her manner of offending was despicable.”

Turnbull was sentenced on Friday and told she must attend a rehabilitation course as part of her suspended sentence.

The thief was also handed a six-month night time curfew, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and made to pay a victim surcharge of £140.

DC Saunders said: “Louise Turnbull is a predatory thief who has preyed on some very vulnerable people.

“She claimed to have been driven to offending to feed a drug addiction and I hope this conviction can get her the help she needs for her problem.

“Turnbull is very lucky not to have received an immediate custodial sentence but if she offends again we will make sure she is put behind bars.”