A BRAVE Bromsgrove pensioner spoke to the Standard about how she fought off two distraction thieves who targeted her on her way home from the town centre.
Judy Barker was approached by a young Eastern European couple on Friday (April 1) while walking through the alleyway near Lyttleton Avenue and Salwarpe Road in Charford.
The woman said she was lost and asked Ms Barker for directions while the man stood beside with a coat over his arm.
While trying to help to pair she heard the bell on her purse which she had been given at a Neighbourhood Watch stall to prevent it being stolen.
After noticing her purse had gone, she confronted the man who claimed he did not have it.
She then struck him with her handbag and the purse fell out from underneath the man’s coat and onto the floor.
She then picked it up and grabbed and shook the thief until he struggled free and fled with his accomplice.
Luckily the 74-year-old had spotted a police car nearby and knocked on residents’ doors until she found an officer to report the crime to.
She said: “I was shaken up but mostly I was just really angry.
“They obviously targeted me on purpose.
“They were on the same bus as me and followed me down the alleyway.
“I had some bad news that day so I was in a world of my own when they approached me.
“I can’t believe I was so stupid to have stopped and spoken to them but I was distracted.
“They obviously thought I was a frail old woman but I am tougher than that.”
Ms Barker is advising more residents to put bells on their purses and said if it was not for that her purse would have been gone.
“It was so lucky really.
“Even the policeman said it is rare to catch these people in the act – usually they only hear about it once the victim gets home and the purse is long gone.”
A West Mercia Police spokesperson said: “We would urge people to be vigilant with their belongings and to be particularly careful with handbags, purses and wallets when out in public.
“Always keep valuable items secure and watch for ‘shoulder surfers’ who may be looking at your pin at checkouts and cash machines.
“We are working to reduce these types of offences within our communities, and if residents are mindful about distraction thefts, it will make it harder for offenders.”
Anyone with any information on distraction thefts in Bromsgrove district should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111