POLICE have issued a CCTV picture of a person they want to contact in connection with the theft of a purse from an elderly woman in Devizes.

Officers are concerned about a spate of purse thefts in the town in the run-up to Christmas and have urged people to continue to be vigilant.

A spokesman said: "Police in Devizes are urging residents to be vigilant when out and about shopping following a number of incidents in which purses have been stolen from handbags.

"We received two reports of incidents in the Market Place on December 20 – in the first incident, an 80-year-old woman was out shopping when her purse was stolen, which included her bank cards and a small amount of cash.

"In the second incident, an elderly woman had her purse stolen from her handbag in the same area and an attempt was then made to withdraw money from a cash point, however the bank cards were cancelled immediately.

"Area patrols were carried out and CCTV footage checked by local officers."

PC Paul Woodbridge, who is the community coordinator for the area, said: “These incidents happened in the busy lead-up to Christmas. The market place would have been fairly crowded at the time.

“Incidents of this nature can be extremely upsetting and it would appear elderly people are being targeted.

“To help reduce your chances of falling victim to this type of crime, we would encourage people to take the following steps –

“When using a cash machine, be aware of who is around you, stand close to the machine and always shield your PIN. Once you’ve completed your transaction put your card and money straight into your purse before moving away from the machine and ensure your purse is at the bottom of your bag, with the bag clasp faxing inwards.

“You may even wish to consider a purse strap to secure your purse inside your handbag.

“Officers will continue to patrol the town centre regularly – if you have any concerns or have witnessed any suspicious behaviour, please speak to them about your concerns, or call 101.”