Police take action after spate of purse thefts on elderly women in Bury town centre

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Police in Bury St Edmunds are clamping down on a recent spate of purse thefts which have seen elderly women targeted in the town.

Officers suspect professional teams are to blame, with the thefts occurring predominantly on market days when there is an ‘influx of elderly people’ in the town centre.

The six most recent purse thefts took place this month in and around the Buttermarket - all the victims were women aged from 56 to 92.

Sgt Alistair Torkington, of the Central Bury Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “They must have very low morals to target such people. I don’t know how they sleep at night to be honest.”

He added: “They are targeting elderly people who maybe aren’t as aware of people around them and what their intentions are. The modus operandi is people are observed drawing money from cash points and targeted in various shops when their purses aren’t necessarily secure.”

He said the crimes could have a knock-on effect on the ‘more vulnerable’ who tended to have ‘less of a support network’ and may be less willing to visit the town in the future.

The issue is being taken ‘very seriously’ and has been adopted as a policing priority.

On Wednesday, officers set up a mobile police station in the centre of the market to provide information and reassurance to the public.

Sgt Torkington said their increased presence – which will continue for three months – had also served as a deterrent, with no purse thefts reported on that day.

“Bury is a safe town to come to but we want people to be mindful that this is happening at the moment,” he added.