Stevenage shoppers warned to be vigilant after criminals target town’s elderly in spate of thefts

Anyone with information should call Herts police on 101.

Anyone with information should call Herts police on 101. - Credit: Archant

Shoppers are being warned to stay vigilant in Stevenage town centre after criminals have targeted elderly women in a spate of thefts.

In the past month, four pensioners have had items stolen – including an 84-year-old who had jewellery taken from her handbag while she was out shopping around the Westgate Shopping Centre.

The woman went to a jewellers in the centre between 2.30pm and 3pm on Wednesday, September 9, and then visited the Garden House Hospice’s shop in The Forum.

Police want to speak to a white woman aged between 50 and 60, around 5ft 3in to 5ft 5in tall and with short mousey coloured straight hair about the crime.

Sadly this pensioner wasn’t the only victim. Between 12.15pm and 12.30pm on Saturday, September 12, a 79-year-old woman had her purse stolen from her handbag while she was in the café at Tesco in The Forum. Then, on Tuesday, September 15, an 84-year-old woman had her purse stolen while she was shopping in Town Square between 2.30pm and 4.30pm.

Thieves also stole a 74-year-old’s handbag from her shopping trolley in Queensway on Tuesday, September 8. There are no descriptions of the other offenders but Herts police are appealing to anyone with information about the crimes to come forward. It is not clear whether any of these thefts are linked but police are not ruling it out.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time elderly people have been targeted in Stevenage.

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In August, thieves withdrew £2,000 from a 82-year-old’s bank account after watching her put her pin number in an ATM machine and stealing her purse.

In response, officers at Herts police are urging people to follow some simple rules to prevent thefts.

They advise that members of the public use a handbag that goes over the shoulder and sits at the front of the body. It should always be zipped up or properly fastened.

Shoppers should not take unnecessary items with them and also be aware of those around them – never leaving their bags or shopping trollies unattended.

Thieves tend to target charity shops and card shops so people should be more wary when visiting them.

A police spokesman said: “Following a number of recent incidents, police are urging all shoppers to take simple precautions when out shopping to help keep their belongings safe.” Anyone with information about the crimes should call Herts police on 101.