Polish authorities have arrested an 80-year-old woman who allegedly drugged and then robbed a string of senior citizen suitors she met through newspaper lonely hearts adverts.

During dinner, the predatory pensioner sprinkled lorazepam - a drug prescribed to treat anxiety but which induces sleep - onto her victim's food, a regional court in Brzesko, southern Poland, heard.

In one case, she stole 8,000 zloty (NZ$2900) in jewellery, electronics and cash from a 78-year-old who had invited her to his home in the nearby village of Szczurow, the online edition of the Polska The Times reported Tuesday.

"During a joint meal she spiked his food with lorazepam - a psychotropic substance that causes sleepiness," judge Bozena Waresiak said during a hearing.


Prosecutors say the woman, who has been described as an attractive and well-groomed, quickly won over the affections of her unsuspecting victims.

"I'd never have imagined this lady was capable of doing something like this, nor that she's 80," said district prosecutor Andrzej Lesniak.

The woman, known only as Janina M, was only caught when one of her victims went to a doctor complaining of dizziness.

Blood tests showed the presence of lorazepam, sparking a six-month man hunt that ended only when the suspect, known only as Janina M, was detained for a similar crime in Krakow.

Evidence gathered by local police suggests the woman had used the same technique to rob a string of lovelorn seniors.

Investigators say she already has nine previous convictions for theft and fraud.

The woman has denied any wrongdoing, claiming she never been to Szczurow and denying robbing the 78-year old man.

If found guilty, the octogenarian faces up to 20 years behind bars due to the high risk of reoffending.


Lorazepam, sold under the brand name Ativan, is a benzodiazepines commonly prescribed to treat anxiety.

It is known to police for its use as a date rape drug when combined with alcohol and classified as a class C controlled substance in the UK.

Janina M is not the first robber to make use of sedatives.

Urban legends have long revolved around the use of sleeping gas or chloroform to rob travellers on overnight trains in Poland and other parts of central Europe.

In 2014 police warned British caravaners about a "sleeping gas gang" who were anaesthetizing travellers in their motor homes at French service stations.

In 2011 a gang of burglars was caught using sleeping gas to raid luxury villas in Spain.