An opportunist thief stole a mobile phone from a mother-of-two, after she put it down on a chemist’s shop counter, a court heard.
Neil Rainford, who was standing next to the victim, had put the Samsung A8 in his pocket when the victim was distracted by her children.
She then left the store without it and the defendant picked up his prescription and walked out.
Burnley magistrates were told Rainford, who had been caught on CCTV, was questioned at the police station and made full and frank admissions to the lunchtime theft.
The 36-year-old, who has 58 offences on his record, told officers he had sold the phone for £25 and used the cash for food as he was struggling because he was not getting benefits.
The prosecutor said: "He said he regretted his actions and knew phones were not just phones and had people’s lives and pictures on them. He said he was glad he was arrested.”
Mr Mark Williams, defending, said Rainford had always accepted his responsibility and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
The defendant had not offended for two years. Before the offence, he had been struggling to find accommodation and sort his benefits out.
The solicitor continued: "The incident was entirely unplanned. It was an opportunistic theft, which he certainly regretted. He does seem to have turned his life around significantly.
"He apologises. He recognises it was a very foolish thing to do."
Rainford, of Marsden Crescent, Nelson, admitted theft on November 5th. He was ordered to pay £350 compensation.