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Police in Christchurch have issued an appeal for witnesses and information following a series of alleged handbag thefts at stores in the town – with a man and a woman being arrested.
Between Friday 8 June 2012 and Sunday 11 June 2012, a total of five thefts have been reported to police. On each occasion the elderly victims have told police that they have been distracted by two men while a woman took their handbag.
In the first instance, an 88-year-old woman from Christchurch reported her handbag stolen from her trolley while shopping in Sainsbury's on Lyndhurst Road at around 11.45am on Friday 8 June 2012.
The bag was said to contain keys, cash and bank cards.
The second alleged incident involved a 91-year-old woman, who states her bag was taken in the Cooperative Store on Lymington Road in Highcliffe at around 1.30pm on Saturday 9 June 2012.
The bag was said to contain a mobile phone, £40 cash and garage keys.
A third theft reportedly took place on Sunday 10 June 2012 at around 1pm from Marks & Spencer on the High Street.
In this incident, an 89-year-old woman from Bournemouth stated her bag contained £5 cash, some loose
changes and bank cards.
A further incident took place the same day at Lidl's on Somerford Road at around 12.20pm, in which a 76-year-old Christchurch woman had her bag allegedly taken as she approached the checkouts.
This contained £30 cash, keys, banks cards and a bus pass.
Finally, a fifth alleged theft took place at Waitrose at Bargates where an 82-year-old woman states she had her handbag taken containing £100 in cash.
Police Constable Gina Sykes, of Christchurch Police, said:
"We believe that all of these incidents may be connected and that a groupN of three people may be working together.
"In all four cases the woman suspected of taking these bags has exited these stores and got into a dark blue or black Chrysler type vehicle.
"I would urge any witnesses or further victims to these alleged offences to come forward, and contact Dorset Police in confidence as soon as possible".
A 43-year-old woman from Romsey, and a 22-year-old man of no stated address have been arrested and are currently helping police with their investigation.
Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101 quoting any of the above incident numbers. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.