THIEF Tanya Pedder was caught on "candid camera" after stealing from vulnerable elderly residents at a residential care home in Church.
Pedder, 18, of Within Grove, Huncoat, was caught red-handed after 94-year-old Alice Hewston's family fitted a hidden camera in her flat.
They became suspicious after a small amount of cash went missing on a number of occasions, over five months, from her sheltered accommodation flat at Kirk House, on Tanpits Road.
Pedder pleaded guilty at Hyndburn Magistrates Court to stealing cash and a bar of chocolate totalling £5 from Mrs Hewston and £25 from William Strolin.
A relative of Mrs Hewston who lives in Church, said: "I suspected money was going missing because I used to put £50-a-week in Alice's purse and she kept asking where all the money had gone. This went on for about three or four weeks.
"The only people who had a key were myself and the carers.
"My granddaughter suggested we put the camera in and on the first day she was caught red-handed.
"She couldn't do anything else other than plead guilty.
"Now she's ruined her career and will never get another job like that again.
"What annoyed me was the fact that she was a carer. It's callous preying on an elderly woman."
The court heard how in December, Pedder, was captured on film getting Mrs Hewston out of bed and into the bathroom, before stealing the chocolate and cash from the pensioner's purse and then wiping away any fingerprints on a towel.
Prosecuting, Neil White, said Pedder admitted to her crime immediately in police interviews and said she knew she had done wrong.
He said Pedder, who has since lost her job, had said: "I am sorry, I have been stupid, I don't know what's come over me. I have always been a good girl but I did it."
Mr White added: "These are serious offences. In her employment she was put in a position of care and trust from an older person and took advantage of them."
In defence, Gareth Price said: "Her explanation was she came down with a bout of depression and ended up seeking treatment from her GP."
He said this had affected the normal rules and regulations she abided by until that point.
He added: "It was on the spur of the moment, it was simply opportunity. There was no planning in it. She said, in her words, she was a , 'stupid, silly girl'."
But magistrate Judith Hornsby said: "You were in a position of trust and it was of a repeated nature. It was obviously premeditated because you wiped fingerprints from the purse.
"It caused distress to the victim and to their relatives, who thought they were in a safe place."
A spokesman for Kirk House said of the case: "It's sickening, especially when we are supposed to be looking after them."
The case has been adjourned for sentencing on 2 February.