Pensioner whose bag was snatched twice in one week set for merry Christmas thanks to donations from strangers

Police were blown away when members of the public stepped in to donate gifts after a vulnerable woman had her bag stolen twice in one week (Picture: Bishop Auckland Police)

A pensioner who had her bag snatched twice in one week is still set for a merry Christmas thanks to the kindness of strangers.

The 69-year-old had her bag, along with her purse, cash and bank cards, stolen as she walked home from shops in St Helen Auckland in County Durham at around 3.30pm on 15 December. It was then taken again at the same time on 21 December.

In a bid to make sure the vulnerable woman’s Christmas wasn’t completely ruined, police posted an appeal on Facebook for the public to help and were blown away by what they received.

In just a few hours, complete strangers had donated everything from chocolates, selection boxes, biscuits and cakes to lift the woman’s spirits.

The gesture is the latest act of kindness that has hit the headlines this festive season, with other examples including eight-year-old Lewis McCartney saving up his pocket money to buy Christmas gifts for pensioners.

Sharing the tale of festive cheer on Facebook and on their website, Durham Police said local charity The Angel Trust had also donated £200 to replace the money that was stolen from the woman, while fellow charity Feeding Families donated a Christmas food box.

The woman was also sent handmade cards from local youngsters Jacob, Reuben and Noah, along with chocolates and teabags, the force said.

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Detective Constable Nichola Gaines, from Bishop Auckland CID, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the local people in our area and I would like to thank everyone who has donated items or shared the original post to raise awareness.

“We cannot thank everyone enough. Thank you to the staff at both The Angel Trust and Feeding Families for the kindness they have also extended to the victim of these crimes – we hope this goes some way to restoring her faith in our community and helping her to enjoy what should be a happy time of the year.

“I would also like to thank three local children who have made handmade Christmas cards for the lady in question and delivered them to the police station – this kind gesture is very much appreciated.”

Any surplus items were delivered to a food bank in Bishop Auckland, the force said, as well as a number of local care homes.