VIDEO: CCTV footage shows sneak theft of elderly woman's purse in Hailsham
Police have released a video which appears to show a brazen thief taking an unsuspecting shopper's purse in broad daylight.
The CCTV footage shows a man, suspected by police of being one of a group of purse thieves at supermarkets across Sussex, stealing from a shopper in Waitrose at Hailsham. The victim lost £2,000.
The suspect appears to be watching the 78-year-old victim entering her pin at the till on August 12. Then, as she leaves the store, he brazenly steals her purse from her handbag.
Police say the suspect is bald, wearing a white shirt and dark blue jeans, white trainers and is carrying a white carrier bag.
He is also wearing a watch on his left wrist.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: “He targets the victim, watches her, then moves to another position and sits down.
“He then stands to move closer to the victim and watches her enter her PIN, getting his phone out and typing the number in to store it.
“He then follows the victim out of the store, at which point the theft occurs when he bumps into her and leaves with her purse.”
Police would also like to talk to a second man present, who is also pictured, and who they think may be involved. He has dark hair and was wearing a blue T-shirt.
The cards stolen in this theft were then used at various locations nearby.
Earlier this year, officers issued a warning following the spate of thefts at supermarkets across Sussex, involving several suspects believed to be part of an organised group.
Elderly customers have been targeted and watched while entering their PIN numbers at till points. The victims have then had their purses and wallets stolen as they leave the store.
The suspects then withdraw large amounts of cash and use the stolen cards to complete multiple transactions before the victims are aware.
Previously an image was released of two men who are believed to have successfully obtained more than £20,000 by targeting victims in this way.
According to Sussex Police, since the August 12 theft a further incident has been confirmed – including a case in which an 88-year-old woman shopping at Waitrose in Lewes lost £7,000 when her credit and debit cards were stolen and used in the same way.
There have now been 19 confirmed reports in Sussex over the past 12 months, with a total loss of £29,000, although police say it is thought highly likely that there are more such thefts which have not been linked to this series as no CCTV is available to confirm this.
Anyone who recognises the men or who has any further information is asked to contact Sussex Police online or call 101, quoting reference 47170066290.
If you see anyone behaving suspiciously in this way, alert store security staff or dial 999.
Investigator Kayleigh Bartup said: “Be alert and aware of strangers when shopping in supermarkets or using cashpoints. NEVER leave your bag or trolley unattended at any time and be cautious when entering your PIN at the till point.”