A purse and mobile phone were stolen from a car during a distraction theft in Stevenage earlier this week.

Between 11.15am and 11.47am on Tuesday, November 14, the offender or offenders stole the items from the passenger seat of a vehicle by distracting their victim.

The incident took place in the car park of the Sainsbury's at Poplars.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire police said: "Occasionally there are spates of thefts of handbags and wallets at local supermarket car parks.


"Circumstances vary, but always involve a stranger who distracts you by asking for directions, asking a question, or asking you to look at something.

"A typical scenario happens when you are putting your shopping into your vehicle.  A stranger approaches and points out a concern about your car.  While you are distracted, an accomplice grabs your unattended bag.

"In some cases, the thief has previously watched the victim enter their PIN while paying for their shopping."

If you have any information about this incident, you can contact the police by calling 101 and quoting crime number 41/91132/23. Alternatively, you can provide information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Hertfordshire police gave the following advice to help avoid becoming the victim of a similar crime:

  • When loading shopping into your car, be aware of your handbag - don’t leave it unattended, even for a moment.
  • If a stranger approaches you, lock your bags into your car before speaking with them.
  • Use your hand as a shield while entering your PIN in shops or at cash points.
  • While out, keep your bag zipped and in front of you with a hand on it, with your purse/wallet at the bottom of the bag.  Avoid putting your wallet in your back pocket.
  • Call your bank and cancel your cards immediately if you notice your purse/wallet is missing.