Police are appealing for information after what officers describe as two "quick-fire" thefts near Houghton.
Officers first received a report of a car break-in just before 3pm last Thursday, June 7, at Elba Park, off Chester Road, Shiney Row.
A woman returned to her vehicle in the car park and found the driver window smashed.
Enquiries are ongoing to determine if any items were taken.
Investigators are keen to talk to a man known to have been in the area at the time.
He was described as wearing a red T-shirt, denim jeans and a baseball cap, and is thought to have driven away from the scene in a dark-coloured Range Rover-type vehicle.
At 5.08pm on the same day, a man matching the same description was believed to have been present at the time of a theft on Mautland Street, in Houghton town centre.
A woman was sat in a parked car outside the Lidl supermarket when an unknown man approached the vehicle and stole her handbag.
He then made off in a similarly-described Range Rover-type vehicle.
Police believe the two incidents are linked, and are now urging members of the public to come forward with any information to assist the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 664 070618 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.