TWO men who targeted a shopper could be part of a gang hitting retail outlets.
The theft happened as a woman headed home with shopping bags, after a trip to Marks and Spencer at the Arnison Centre in Durham.
She was placing the shopping on the back seat of her car, along with her handbag, when she was approached by a man she said looked eastern European.
He began a conversation with her in broken English, asking her directions to a hospital and the nearest library.
A second man of similar appearance was initially with him, but moved out of sight.
After she broke off the conversation, the woman drove to her home in Newton Hall.
She then discovered her Samsung phone and purse, which contained £50 in cash and various cards, had been removed from her handbag.
The thieves used her bank card to withdraw £100 from a cash machine in Chester-le-Street, but failed with a later attempt from a bank in Scotland.
The same day, Thursday, October 26, another woman had her handbag stolen during a visit to the Arnison Centre.
Police are keeping an open mind on whether it is linked to the incident in the car park.