Metro thieves steal cash Sunderland pensioner had saved to buy Christmas gifts for family

The pensioner left her handbag on a Metro train

The pensioner left her handbag on a Metro train

Police are hunting "shameful" thieves who stole money a Sunderland pensioner had been saving to buy Christmas presents for her family.

The 71-year-old had been travelling on a Metro train with a friend from Pallion to Park Lane and had placed her handbag on the seat next to her.

But when she got to her stop she picked up her shopping bags and accidentally left her handbag on the seat.

After realising what had happened, she alerted Metro staff and the bag was found further along the line at Heworth - but when it was returned to the woman, she found that around £375 in cash had been taken from the bag.

CCTV images show two young men walking through the train the woman had been on before sitting down next to the bag.

A British Transport Police spokesman said: "When the victim reported that her bag was missing, within ten minutes of the report, Metro staff intercepted the train she had been on and walked through it asking if anyone has seen a handbag.

"The two men handed the bag into staff, but the purse with the bag was missing approximately £375."

The woman had been travelling on the train in Sunderland at around 1.10pm on November 14.

BTP Investigating officer, PC Ian Hancox said: "The victim, a 71-year-old widow, had saved up loose change all year and had gone to the bank to change it up in order to buy Christmas presents for her family.

"She walked directly from the bank onto a Metro train to travel to her destination – but having left the train she realised she didn’t have her handbag with her.

"When Metro staff located the bag and returned it to her, I am sure she was relieved, but that quickly turned to distress when she realised her money was missing. Having examined the purse and handbag, it is clear that the cash could not simply have fallen out.

"Two young men were seen walking through the train and stopping to look at the bag. I would like to speak to them as they may have information which could help with the investigation."

The first man is described as white, with brown hair, medium build aged around 16 – 22 years old. He was wearing a black t-shirt with a print on the front and a red and black short sleeved checked shirt over the top, with black trousers.

The second man is described as white, with brown wavy hair, stocky build, around 16-22 years old and was wearing dark clothing including black jacket, jeans and trainers. He was carrying a rucksack.

PC Hancox added: "I would urge anyone who knows anything about this theft, including the offenders themselves, to come forward and speak to me.

"This theft against an elderly woman is shameful, and my only hope is that those responsible seek to redeem themselves before Christmas, and come forward to apologise to the victim and return her money that she had saved up all year."

Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016, quoting reference number 170 of 20/12/16.