Pensioner’s purse swiped during shop

WH 021214 Pensioner Bettie Stiles took her Christmas money out of cash machine at Lyons Farm Sainsbury's, only for it to be swiped moments later by a crook. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140212-130558001

WH 021214 Pensioner Bettie Stiles took her Christmas money out of cash machine at Lyons Farm Sainsbury's, only for it to be swiped moments later by a crook. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140212-130558001

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A PENSIONER was the target of thieves after her purse containing money for Christmas presents disappeared while she did her weekly shop.

Betty Stiles, 80, of Harrison Road, Broadwater, was shopping at Sainsbury’s, at Lyons Farm, last Wednesday, when she noticed her purse was no longer in her bag.

She had just withdrawn £550 for Christmas presents, new glasses and bill payments from the Post Office in Broadwater, before making her way to the store with her neighbour.

“I just went to pieces and was shaking,” she said.

“It is a lot of money to me and I don’t think I have ever had that much in my purse at any one time.”

Mrs Stiles had travelled to the shop by car with her neighbour and recalls counting the money and putting her purse in her bag.

She had looked in her bag to get a pen in the shop but noticed the purse had since gone.

She had sent her hearing aids off for repair, so did not hear anyone taking the purse out of her bag. A search of the car and area revealed nothing.

Her daughter, Netta Thompson, 56, phoned police later that day.

She said: “I just thought it was disgusting. No matter how little I had, I would never dream of doing something like that.

As well as the money, the purse contained a number of sentimental items, including photographs of Mrs Stiles’s great grandchildren and late husband, Geoff.

She said: “It is not only the money, it is the little things, too. I had photographs and my grandmother’s stamp case, which I have had since 1952, in there.

Inspector Allan Lowe issued a warning to shoppers.

He said: “Thefts from individual shoppers are not a major problem in Worthing, but at this time of year opportunist thieves are more likely to be active as they know the pickings will be greater as the festive season approaches.

“Don’t leave your bags or purses unattended at any time and make sure that bags or pockets containing purses or wallets are securely zipped or fastened at all times. If possible, pick a bag that can be carried with the zipped opening against your body, reducing the chances for the thieves even further.”

Anyone with information about the incident should email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101 quoting serial 843 of 26/11.