'Sneaky' thief targeted churchgoers
An "underhand" sneak thief stole a 86-year-old woman's handbag while she was worshipping in church.
The offender also tried to make off with the handbags of two other elderly women during a Good Friday service at St James Church in Gorton, Manchester.
He posed as a member of the congregation as he sat next to the 86-year-old and then struck while she was distracted.
An 82-year-old woman was later alerted when she heard him rustling in her purse while another 86-year-old woman pushed him away as he tried to pull the bag from her shoulder and then ran off
Police have now released an evofit of the suspected offender and CCTV footage of him outside the church as they appeal for information about the incidents between 1pm and 2pm on April 3.
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 be elderly people or those attending at the church.
"We have released an accurate likeness of this offender and I would urge people to look very carefully at the image. If you recognise who this man is then please do the right thing and call us.
"Alternatively, I would urge people to be vigilant and if you think you see this man, then please call us straight away."
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.