Purse stolen from 74-year-old woman

Inside of the Howard Centre, a shopping centre in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire

Her bank cards were used by the thief in JD Sport and John Lewis. - Credit: Cmglee

A 74-year-old woman was targeted by purse thieves while she was shopping in Welwyn Garden City's Howard Centre.

The crime occurred between approximately 11.30am and midday on Thursday October 21 while the woman was enjoying a day out in the centre. She was unaware of theft occurring so cannot give an exact time.

Following the theft, her bank cards were subsequently used in JD Sport and John Lewis before the victim realised what had happened and contacted her bank to cancel them.

Police investigating the theft have now released a CCTV image of a woman suspected of being involved in the incident who they are keen to speak to.

CCTV image showing woman with brown hair on the phone in a shop in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Do you recognise this woman? She might be able to help the police with their investigation. - Credit: Hertfordshire Constabulary

PC Katie Darcy, who is investigating, said: “We believe the woman pictured was in the Howard Centre at the time and could have important information about the incident.

“If you recognise her, or have other information that might help, please call the non-emergency number 101 or email me at Katie.Darcy@herts.police.uk quoting crime reference 41/82178/21."

PC Darcy also shared some tips on how to avoid pickpockets. 

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"Firstly, make sure to use a handbag that can be closed properly - zipped up preferably - so that it is more difficult for someone to open it and reach in.

"If you use a handbag with a strap, wear it across your body and not just over one shoulder so it is more secure. If you do keep your purse in a shopping bag, put your purse at the bottom and not near the top, and use a shopping bag that can be closed if possible.

“For further tips, please see our website at herts.police.uk/crimeprevention.”

You can also report information online at herts.police.uk/report or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via the online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact.

Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.