Mom with drug problem sentenced to jail for string of thefts

A pill-popping Redwood City mom who stole from a purse that was inside her child’s elementary school classroom is headed to prison and rehab.

Lisa Marie Mathews, 33, was sentenced to a year in county jail and three years probation Wednesday for committing a series of thefts earlier this year to support a raging drug habit, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

The most brazen heist took place in her kid’s classroom at Adelante Spanish Immersion School. On Feb. 2, Mathews stole a wallet from a purse in the classroom containing $376, credit and ATM cards and gift cards, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

She found the ATM card’s pin number in the purse and withdrew more cash, Wagstaffe said.

The thefts didn’t stop there. In separate incidents a month later, she snagged $100 from a wallet in the back room of a Redwood City coffee shop; stole an 83-year-old woman’s purse as the victim was shopping at Lucky’s supermarket, using a Visa card to purchase gas; and robbed a woman’s purse at a Redwood City Target store, authorities said.

The Target theft was Mathews’ downfall. As she left with the stolen purse — and removed $600 in cash — she realized she had left her own purse inside Target, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

When she went back inside the store, she was apprehended by security, Wagstaffe said. A security guard saw her steal the purse, he said.

Inside her purse, cops found Oxycodone and Methadone pills, Wagstaffe said.

The prosecution argued for a prison sentence of more than 3 years. Mathews apologized to the court and asked for probation and treatment program, Wagstaffe said.

She received 33 days credit for time already served on her one-year jail sentence. Mathews might only serve five months in jail if she enters rehab and passes drug tests, Wagstaffe said.

She must also pay restitution to victims of at least $1,275, he said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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