A homeless, penniless man came to Bristol and robbed two women.
Sabin Sbirciog was on his way to new accommodation with Julian Trust.
But Bristol Crown Court heard he targeted two women for their mobile phones in the Castle Park area.
Sbirciog, 30, pleaded guilty to two robberies within 15 minutes on February 5 this year.
Judge Paul Cook jailed him for a year.
He told Sbirciog: “One victim felt what you did was cowardly, and she was targeted because she was a lone female.”
Giles Nelson, prosecuting, told the court it was around 6.30pm when Sbirciog approached Ellen Mulcrone, grabbed her Samsung phone from her hand and ran off.
Mr Nelson told the court Ms Mulcrone tried to grab his rucksack and Sbirciog swung at her with his left arm, frightening her.
Some 15 minutes later Sbirciog struck again, this time snatching a Huawei phone from the hand of Joanna Peasland and running off towards Castle Park.
The court heard how Ms Peasland and others gave chase, and a member of the public managed to grab him and recover both stolen phones before police arrested him.
Ms Peasland made an impact statement in which she said she was frightened by the incident, was left feeling unsafe and felt she was targeted because she was a woman.
The court heard Sbirciog had been jailed in his native Romania for an offence relating to cannabis.
Matthew Comer, defending, said: “He was asked to leave his address.
“He was going to the Julian Trust.
“He was homeless, he had no money and decided to steal these two mobiles.
“They are relatively easy to sell.
“There was no real planning, other than seeing an opportunity and taking it over a relatively short period of time.”