POLICE are warning shoppers after a spate of bag snatches across Sunderland.
Officers are today urging vigilance after the sneak thieves struck while women were standing in the street.
On Thursday, February 24, a hooded man snatched a bag off a woman’s shoulder as she and a pal made their way along Stockton Road at about 7.25pm. The man ran off towards Tunstall Road.
He is described medium build, 5ft 10, and was wearing dark clothing and a hoody. He was also carrying a tray of chips at the time.
Investigating officers are keen to speak to a couple, aged about 40, who spoke to the victim after the theft. They say they saw the man running down Durham Road with a bag and chips.
Just 24 hours earlier another bag snatch took place when a man stole a mobile phone from a woman at about 9.20pm. He also attempted to grab her bag as she stood at Athenaeum Street.
Officers are trying to trace a man who gave the thief some cigarettes shortly before the incident and may be able to help them identify him.
The offender is described as medium build, 5ft 7 tall, with a long slim face with a distinctive mark on his forehead.
He fled in the direction of Foyle Street and the old Post Office.
The victims in both incidents were left shaken but otherwise uninjured.
A 19-year-old man was arrested in connection with a bag snatch in Mary Street on Monday, February 21, at about 7.30pm.
He has been released on police bail.
Sergeant Mick Hall, of Sunderland Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, which covers the city centre, said: “In both of these incidents there have been key witnesses and we’d urge these people to contact police as the information they have could prove crucial in helping us identify who is responsible.
“Extra police officers are regularly on patrol in the areas that have been affected.
“We’d always urge people to be aware of their personal safety and make sure valuables such as purses and mobile phones are out of sight.
“Never let bags hang too low and ideally wear your bag across your body.”
People can protect their belongings from thieves by attaching cats bells to their bags, meaning thieves trying to snatch it will trigger the bell.
Anyone with any information should contact Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.