A CRUEL thief stole a woman’s handbag while she was worshipping in church on Good Friday.
Not content with that, the offender also tried to steal the handbags of two other elderly victims who were also at church for the service.
The appalling incidents happened the Parish Church of St James’, Wellington Street, Gorton, between 1pm and 2pm on 3 April 2015.
The offender posed as a member of the congregation and sat next to an 86-year-woman who was there for the Good Friday service. He then pinched her handbag while she was distracted.
However, he continued his criminal spree and tried to do exactly the same to another 82-year-old woman who was at the church, only this time she was alerted to what he was doing when she heard him rustling in her purse.
As the offender left the church, he then tried to snatch the handbag from a third woman, also aged 86. But instinctively the woman pushed the thief away as he tried to pull the bag from her shoulder and he ran off.
The thief is described as being a white man, in his 40s of a medium build and wearing a grey hooded top.
Detective Constable Dave Bennett said: “The actions of this underhand and sneaky thief are so shocking that I have no doubt people who live in this area, particularly those who worship at this church, will be very angry.
“He used an important date in the religious calendar and within the sanctity of the church grounds to target elderly women who had simply gone to the church to mark Good Friday. Not only did he pinch one woman’s bag, but he also tried to steal two other handbags and was only stopped in his tracks thanks to the vigilance of two of the women.
“It is a sinister, cowardly and disrespectful crime and we need to find the man responsible before he can target anyone else, whether they will elderly people or those attending at the church.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.