Shoppers urged to be vigilant following series of purse dips in Marlborough

Police in Marlborough are investigating a number of purse thefts and are urging residents to be mindful when out and about.

Shortly after 2.15pm on 7 October, a man in his 70s was in Waitrose, in the High Street, when two men collided with him as he got into the lift.

A short time later, the man was contacted by his credit card company asking if he had attempted to withdraw £200 from an ATM. It was then that he realised that his wallet had been stolen. It contained a number of credit and debit cards.

At approximately 11.30am on 14 October, a woman aged in her 70s, was in the High Street when her purse was stolen from her handbag which she had packed away in a personal shopping trolley.

The offenders then used her card to withdraw £1,200 from two cash points.

The purse contained bank cards, a driving licence, railcard, loyalty cards and approximately £40 cash.

At midday on 17 October, a woman in her 80s had just finished using the cash point at Barclays Bank and was walking towards Waitrose where she entered the store and was approached by a man who engaged her in conversation before leaving the scene.

The woman left the store at the rear exit following the path that leads to the river. She was then approached by a woman who asked her for directions to Swindon. She pulled a map out and asked the woman to point out directions. During this time, she removed the woman’s debit card from her purse which was located in a shopping trolley behind her. The card was then used to withdraw £800 from an ATM.

The first suspect is described as male, approximately 5 ft 2 inches tall, with dark hair. He was clean and sharply dressed. The woman is described as tall and blonde.

Community Policing Team co-ordinator PC Teresa Herbert said: “These incidents have been understandably upsetting for the victims, who are all elderly.

“I would like to reassure the local community that we are carrying out a thorough investigation into all of these incidents and we are keeping an open mind as to whether or not they are linked.

“We would like to urge people shopping in Marlborough High Street to follow a few simple steps to help reduce your chances of falling victim to this type of crime.

“If using a cash machine, be aware of anyone entering the outlined areas that should be kept clear while you are withdrawing cash. Never accept any help from someone to use the machine or sort out a problem as this may be a ploy to see your PIN number. Stand close to the machine and always shield they key pad when entering your PIN.

“Once you have completed a transaction, put your card and money into your purse or wallet before moving away from the machine, and ensure you only withdraw enough money for your immediate needs. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash with you.

“It is important to also carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards, and put your purse in the bottom of your bag, in a zipped compartment if possible. You may even wish to consider a purse strap to secure your purse to your handbag.

“Officers in Marlborough have been handing out purse straps and crime prevention advice leaflets as part of their engagement with the local community over the past week and will be at the Marlborough market this Wednesday from 11am to 1pm should you wish to speak to them about any concerns regarding personal safety.”

Anyone with information in relation to these incidents should call police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.