Councillor steps in as thief makes off with elderly woman’s purse

The bus stop at London Road, Brighton (Credit: Google Maps)
The bus stop at London Road, Brighton (Credit: Google Maps)

An eagle-eyed councillor attempted to apprehend a thief on Tuesday (December 4) after he took an elderly lady’s purse from her bag.

Conservative councillor Mary Mears, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, was meeting a friend for coffee at 11.45am on London Road, Brighton, when she noticed two men stood outside Admiral Casino pointing at an elderly lady and her bag at the bus stop.

Having worked on London Road for more than 30 years, Cllr Mears said she thought their behaviour was strange, so stood as if she were waiting for a bus to keep an eye on them.

She said: “One of them distracted her friend, and the other went in and pulled her purse out of her bag.

“I grabbed his jacket from the back, and I just started like a banshee woman ‘he’s a thief, stop the thief’.”

The woman had just withdrawn £100 from the bank, Cllr Mears said, and although the man threw her purse back, the money was gone.

Cllr Mears said: “The police response was very quick and they were excellent.”

After the incident, Cllr Mears urged residents to put their purse or wallet at the bottom of their bag and zip their bag up so it can’t be grabbed easily, and when in a shop or bank to put their purse or wallet away before they go out on to the street.

She said: “A lot of these elderly people are old school, they trust people, and we need to watch out for them.

“It’s so easy to be involved in your own little world, looking at your phone, but we need to watch out for them because they’re vulnerable.”

Cllr Mears, a trustee of the Paley Trust, said the charity would send a £100 cheque to the elderly Brighton woman.

Sussex Police said it is appealing for witnesses after the incident.

A police spokesperson said: “The victim, a woman in her late 70s, was sitting at a bus stop in London Road around midday on Tuesday (December 4) when she was approached by two men.

“One of the men distracted the victim while the other took the victim’s purse from inside her handbag, and the pair ran away.

“A short time later the man, who distracted the victim, returned the purse to her but she discovered cash and bank cards were missing.

“One suspect was described as white, in his late teens, around 5’ 8” and with light brown hair. The second suspect could not be described.”

If you witnessed the incident or have any information regarding this matter, call police on 101 with the crime reference 557 of 04/12