A widow stole groceries to feed her family after she took out a number of loans and the interest rate kept going up, a court heard.
Caroline Fitzsimons (53) was being pursued by loan sharks at the time of the theft.
Judge David McHugh imposed a six-month sentence which he suspended for two years.
The defendant, of Moorfield Parade in Clondalkin, admitted stealing groceries worth €297 from Dunnes Stores in Clondalkin last April 4.
Garda Brendan O'Brien told Blanchardstown District Court that Fitzsimons was stopped as she left the shop with the groceries, which were all recovered in a resaleable condition.
The court heard that Fitzsimons had 19 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences but three for theft.
Defence solicitor Terence Hanahoe said Fitzsimons was an unemployed widow. She had taken out loans but the interest rate kept going up and she was being policed by loan sharks.
The food was for herself, Mr Hanahoe added.
Imposing a suspended sentence, Judge McHugh said Fitzsimons risked going to jail if she was convicted again of theft.