Thieving gang target three-year-old

A mum has hit out at a callous gang of youths who stole a handbag from her three-year-old daughter as she sat outside a shop.

Little Michaela Bridge was with her older sister outside the Nisa grocery store at The Glebe shopping centre in Stevenage last Wednesday afternoon when the teenagers struck. Spotting the Timebridge pre-schooler sitting on a bench, with her sister’s back turned, they grabbed the bag out of her hand and ran - leaving Michaela shocked and in tears.

Michaela’s mum Loraine, 43, of Brunel Road, said the theft had left her daughter “devastated”.

She said: “She had it on the seat beside her - she had tic-tacs in one hand and her other hand on her handbag. Five boys, around 17 they were, pinched her handbag out of her hand.”

The small brown adult clutch bag, an old one her mum had given her, contained Michaela’s playthings – a pretend mobile phone, a hairbrush, old keys and make-up.

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Michaela’s sister, Stacey Dommett, aged 19, shouted after the thieves, who ran off out of the shopping centre.

Mrs Bridge added: “She’s just in bits. There was nothing valuable in there – just her little things she likes to keep in it. It’s just shocking - she’s only three.”

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She called for help in finding those responsible, to stop anything like it happening to others.

“There are a lot of little children up there. If they could do that to a three-year-old, they could do it to anyone. She’s just so upset. I just don’t want it to happen again.”

Police are investigating the incident, including examining CCTV images from the scene.

Neighbourhood Inspector for Stevenage, Simon Tabert said: “We are working to establish the circumstances of the theft, which is particularly difficult given the victim’s age, albeit that at the time of the offence she was being supervised by an adult.

“I would reassure the local community that this seems to be an opportunist theft, and we are not currently experiencing an issue with theft in the area around the Glebe shops, or in Chells as a whole.

“It is not acceptable that a young child has been victimised in this way and although we are exploring all investigative avenues I would ask for the public’s help in tracing the people responsible.”

If you saw what happened, or have any information that might help the investigation, call Herts Police via the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference number E1/11/7046.

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