Police have issued a county-wide warning for people - particularly the elderly - to be vigilant against opportunist thieves following a recent rise in distraction robberies.
Over the last four months there have been 33 similar offences where victims aged 60 or over have had their purse, cash and cards stolen.
Gary Maxey from the crime service team said: “In each of these reports there appears to have been some form of ‘distraction’, or the victims have been followed from banks and had their property stolen very subtly when the opportunity arises.
“Most of the time the vulnerable victims have not even known where the theft may have occurred. This makes them extremely difficult to investigate.
“I would encourage older residents to be aware of this risk, and also warn the heartless crooks who are carrying out these callous acts that we are pursuing all lines of investigation in order to bring the culprits to justice.”
Police advise using handbags or trolleys with a zip or clasp function, and keeping them close to your person at all times.
Always be discreet when handling money, for example when outside a cashpoint, and report anyone you believe to be acting suspiciously using 101.
Anyone with information about this activity is urged to report it also using 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.