Police have apologised to an 82-year-old woman after telling her they were too short-staffed to investigate the theft of her purse.
Julie Olivera believes she fell victim to a woman customer with a child at the check-outs of a Preston store, while she was packing her shopping.
But even though a suspect was caught on camera and used a traceable cash card to pay for her shopping, Mrs Olivera was told police were unable to pursue the matter due to budget cuts.
“This officer told me that because there wasn’t much money in the purse they didn’t have the manpower to follow it up,” she said.
“I’m a big fan of the police - my husband was a Special - and I know how hard they have been hit by cutbacks.
“But to allow someone to just get away with it means they could do it again to someone else. And it makes you wonder how many more times this has happened.”
This officer told me that because there wasn’t much money in the purse they didn’t have the manpower to follow it up
The theft happened at the B&M Bargains store on Lancaster Way as Mrs Olivera, from Ribbleton, was paying for shopping, and put her black leather purse down by the till while she put goods in her bag.
Store staff revealed they had captured a suspect on CCTV. But when she alerted police Mrs Olivera says they refused to investigate further.
“I don’t blame the police, I’m sure they are short-staffed,” she said. “I blame the Government for cutting police numbers like they have and taking bobbies off the beat.
“There was less than £10 in the purse. But it isn’t the money. The officer I spoke to was very nice about it, but said they couldn’t afford to spend the time trying to follow it up.
“I would at least have liked the police to trace whoever did it and go round and have a word. Maybe if they did they wouldn’t snatch someone else’s purse or bag in future.”
Police later released a CCTV image of a woman they would like to speak to about the theft. Asked why Mrs Olivera had been told officers could not investigate the crime, a spokesman said: “This was an error made by a new member of staff. This is not our policy and we are now making further enquiries into the theft.
“We would like to apologise to Mrs Olivera for any distress we have caused.”