PURSE thieves targeted shoppers in Salisbury city centre in a string of incidents in one day at the weekend.

Five people had their purses stolen by two women who snatched them from their bags while they were in the city on Saturday.

The thefts all happened between 10am and noon in the Market Place, Queen Street and Marks & Spencer in New Canal.

One victim was Patricia Randall, 70, who was with her 89-year-old mother Gloria Tudhope when her purse was grabbed out of her bag as she walked under the scaffolding outside the new Nando’s restaurant on Queen Street.

“My daughter was very upset and distressed by this,” said Mrs Tudhope.

“We’d caught the bus into town so we could go to the Cancer Research charity fair in the Guildhall.

“We were just walking under the scaffolding when a woman came between us; she wandered past and must have stolen her purse from her handbag.

“We cancelled her bank cards but the money was gone. She also had personal items in there, which she was upset to lose.

“I think people in Salisbury need to be aware that these awful people are operating in our city.” One of the suspects is described as a white woman about 30 years old. She is 5ft 2ins tall with shoulder length, light brown hair and wearing a black three quarter length quilted jacket.

The other is in her late teens or early twenties with long brown hair and was wearing tight jeans or leggings.

Sgt Richard Goodman from the city centre neighbourhood policing team said: "We are treating these incidents as linked and an investigation is underway. We would like to hear from anyone who has information about these thefts or the identities of the women described.

“The victims were all targeted while in busy areas where people were less likely to notice someone bumping into them or being too close. These offenders will take any easy opportunity so make it harder for them by taking some simple measures to decrease your risk of becoming a victim of purse theft.”

Salisbury Police are issuing the following advice to reduce the risk of people becoming a victim in the future.

• Make sure that handbags are zipped up and positioned at the front of the body.

• Make sure your purse and mobile are at the bottom of the bag or in a secure compartment.

• If using a backpack, make sure your valuables are in the main part of the bag and it is zipped up.

• Don’t keep wallets in back pockets.

• Never write down your pin number

• Don’t carry lots of cash, valuables or cards that you don’t need.

• Use a purse chain

• Be vigilant and be aware of what is going on around you.

• Report any suspicious activity Purse chains are available from the inquiry office at Salisbury Police Station or from any member of the city centre neighbourhood policing team.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Salisbury neighbourhood policing team on 101 or email nptsalisbury@wiltshire.pnn.police.uk