An 82-year-old Winnipeg woman who used a hidden camera to catch her home-care worker stealing money from her says she hopes her story will empower other seniors to stand up for their rights.

Viola Dufresne said she noticed money vanishing from her wallet starting last January, totalling nearly $1,100 over six months.

"My dad taught us morals, and all of a sudden I'm in my home and somebody rips me off. It made me mad," she told CBC News on Monday.

Winnipeg police told Dufresne there wasn't much they could do without evidence, so she went online and bought a spy camera.

The camera, which resembles a clock radio, showed the home-care aide taking $25 from Dufresne's wallet.

"I had it, I played it," Dufresne said of the footage. "I couldn't believe I did it!"

The 54-year-old aide pleaded guilty to theft, alleging that she took the money to buy cigarettes. She has since been fired.

As she was sentenced on Monday, the woman tearfully told provincial court Judge Tim Killeen that she was sorry.

Killeen handed the woman a suspended sentence with two years of probation and 75 hours of community service.

Woman who turned in thief a 'crusader'

While the penalty seemed unusually harsh for a petty thief and first-time offender, the judge said the key issue was the fact Dufresne was victimized by a woman she had trusted and allowed into her home.

"Frankly, I think what you did is despicable," Killeen said to the woman at the hearing.

Even though the camera caught the home-care aide taking only $25, Dufresne said the sentence was appropriate.

"I was not disappointed at all because my aim was to make sure she never worked again in such a situation," she said, adding that she wants all seniors to stand up for their rights and not be intimidated.

"I'm proud of her. She's a crusader for honesty and justice and making a point and making change," said Dufresne's daughter, Joretta Robidioux.