For shoplifting two purses, an Oklahoma City woman was sentenced Friday to life in prison. A judge imposed the unusually long term after learning the shoplifter is a heroin addict who has been punished almost 30 other times for theft-related crimes. The stealing dates to 1971, records show. "It’s past time to say, ‘Enough is enough,’” Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said. "She needs to be warehoused for the rest of her life. She’s a one-person crime wave.” Cecilia Cathleen Rodriguez, 56, pleaded guilty in January to grand larceny. She was caught a year ago at a Dillard’s store stealing a $275 purse and a $380 purse, records show. Her attorney said she shoplifted to support her drug habit. She cared for her mother and lived off monthly disability checks and food stamps, according to a presentencing report prepared for the judge. She has never had a steady job. The judge also revoked Rodriguez’s probation on a 2000 larceny case, meaning she has 19 more years to serve in prison after completing her life term. Her arrest record shows theft cases in California, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. She has gone to prison before for thefts. She also went to prison for a 1983 assault. Her attorney said some of the crimes actually were done by others using her name. The judge noted the outcomes on all her criminal cases were not known so she may have even more convictions. The judge criticized legislators who complain state prisons are overcrowded because of inmates sent there for crimes such as larceny. He called Rodriguez a "poster child” for why it’s OK to send thieves to prison. "We’ve got to do something,” Elliott said. "She’s costing every hard-working taxpayer in this state money because these businesses have to raise prices because thieves like her come in and steal because, I guess, they’re too lazy to go work.” In the report to the judge, a probation and parole officer wrote, "Her need to support her addiction overpowers the remorse that she expresses for the crimes she has committed. ... Her substance abuse began in the 1960s. Her drug of choice is heroin. Her criminal history began in the early 1970s.” Her family complained after the sentencing that Rodriguez needs treatment for her drug problem rather than being sent to prison for life. "It’s all wrong,” said her mother, Geneva Gabriel, 78. "She hasn’t done any violent crime. She has a problem. ... Prison’s not going to help her. She’s been in and out so many times. She’s a good girl. She just needs help. She has seizures.” Defense attorney Chris Daniels said he will ask the judge in a year to reduce the sentence. "It costs a ton of money to lock somebody up for that long,” the attorney said.
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