A robber who pushed a woman and grabbed cash she had just withdrawn from a Coventry city centre post office was chased by other shoppers.
And although Farooq Ali managed to break free, he was caught by a police officer who cycled after him, Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Ali (48) of Boston Place, Coventry, was jailed for two years after he pleaded guilty to robbing his victim.
Prosecutor Madhu Rai said that at about 5pm on February 7 a woman who was just days away from her 60th birthday withdrew £500 from the Post Office in the WH Smith store in the West Orchards shopping centre.
She put the cash on top of her shopping trolley while she took out her wallet to put the money in.
Ali pushed her to one side and grabbed about £100 of the cash before running off.
He was chased by members of staff and other shoppers, one of whom grabbed hold of him, and there was a struggle during which he managed to snatch a plastic bag in which Ali had £20 of the stolen cash.
Ali broke free and continued to run, but was chased by a city centre police officer who cycled after him, and when he was caught and arrested he was found to have a further £90 on him.
At the police station, Ali refused to leave his cell to be interviewed about the robbery, telling officers.
In an impact statement the woman, who already suffered from stress problems, had osteoporosis, and had recently been treated for cancer, said the incident had left her shaken and very upset.
The court heard that Ali had convictions for 56 offences, mainly thefts, and one for robbery back in 1999, but had been out of trouble from 2009 until last year.
His barrister Simon Hunka explained that Ali, who ‘would not have known his victim was relatively vulnerable,’ had been jailed for five years in 2009 for drug offences.
“When he came out in 2011 he had conquered his drug habit while serving his sentence.
“He is from Walsall, but was offered a job in Coventry as a tyre fitter, and moved to Coventry to take that up.
“He was doing well, with no drug relapses, until he lost that job when the place closed down about 18 months ago, and he turned back to drugs,” added Mr Hunka.
Jailing Ali, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “It is sad to see you back in this position when you had been doing so well before this.
“You had managed to stay away from offending after you were released in 2011, stayed off drugs, got yourself a job, and got yourself back on track.
“Unfortunately, on losing your job, you lost your motivation and went back on heroin.
“It is obviously a serious offence when you target someone who you didn’t know was vulnerable, but was a lady older than you, and grabbed the money she had just withdrawn. It was clearly very frightening for her.”
And the judge added: “I very much hope it works out for you this time when you are released.”