Hitchin robbery leaves widow, 82, without husband's irreplaceable watch

PUBLISHED: 16:51 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 13 October 2017

A bag snatched from an 82-year-old widow in a Hitchin alleyway yesterday contained a watch given to her by her late husband, the Comet has been told.

The daughter of the robbery victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Comet that her mother had taken the small wristwatch with her as it needed a new strap.

Describing it as a ladies’ wristwatch with a broken pale blue leather strap, she said: “That can’t be replaced.”

Detectives are investigating after the robbery, which happened in Elmside Walk – between Bedford Road and Fishponds Road, near Hitchin Swimming Centre – at about 3.20pm.

The woman was approached from behind and suddenly felt a tug on her black quilted shopping bag, after which she fell backwards and hit her head – causing a gash that had to be glued in hospital. Her attacker then fled without her seeing him.

Her daughter said today that she was holding up well, but that the ordeal had left her mother feeling unable to walk down the alleyway she had used regularly for 55 years.

“It’s just heartbreaking that somebody could pick on someone as frail as an 82-year-old woman,” she said.

“My mother was walking back from town and she just felt a tug on her bag, and the next moment she fell backwards and banged her head.

“She didn’t see anything, really – it was so quick, and he had come from behind.

“She’s said she’ll never walk down there again. That’s bad because it’s been part of her life for 50-odd years. All these years she’s walked there to go into town and now she feels she can’t.”

The victim’s daughter said the bag itself was of no great sentimental value, and that there wasn’t much money taken – but that she was very upset to have lost the watch, as well as her purse containing family pictures.

She said: “That had pictures of the grandchildren from when they were little, and the watch my dad gave her.

“The strap was broken, and she was going to get a new one done today. That’s now gone. It was something my dad bought her, and she’d had it quite a long time.

“If anyone sees a black quilted shopping bag, or a watch matching this description, please tell the police.”

The robber has been described by police as a slightly-built black man with an unshaven face, about 5ft 8in to 5ft 9in tall. He was wearing a black baseball cap, a dark-coloured coat and dark trousers. He carried a black rucksack-type bag.

DC Kathryn Marshall from the local crime unit is investigating. She said earlier: “At this stage we believe the victim was potentially targeted by the offender, who may have been following her before the robbery occurred.

“We need to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen anything to come forward.

“This has been a dreadful experience for the victim. Thankfully robberies like this are unusual, but we need to identify the offender as quickly as possible.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting crime reference G1/17/3141, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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