Pensioner grabs thief who snatched woman’s purse

Eric leapt onto the thief as he tried to escape. Picture: Derek Martin
Eric leapt onto the thief as he tried to escape. Picture: Derek Martin

A brave grandfather who caught a thief snatching an elderly woman’s bag said he ‘grabbed hold of him without thinking’.

Eric deBues was walking along Worthing seafront across from the dome at about 3pm Sunday, July 8, when he saw a hooded figure on a bike grab a woman’s purse.

I leapt off the top of the steps and grabbed hold of him without thinking

Eric deBues

Eric, 76, who lives in Regents Close in Lancing, said: “I was just going to sit down on one of the seats when I see this lad come along on a bike.

“The lady screamed ‘he’s got my bag!’”

The purse had been on top of her partner’s wheelchair, with the thief grabbing it as he rode past, he said.

Eric, a retired window fitter, said he saw the thief fall off his bike as he tried to ride down some steps to get away.

He added: “I leapt off the top of the steps and grabbed hold of him without thinking.

“As I grabbed hold of him he struggled and wriggled.

“It was not a battle he just wanted to get away.

“If he had kept riding I would never had caught him.”

Eric said the thief kept shouting ‘let me go’ and eventually got away, leaving Eric holding his hoody but also the woman’s bag.

He added: “He then went into the road and nearly got knocked over.”

Eric said the elderly couple, one of whom uses a wheelchair, were ‘really shaken up’ by the incident but were otherwise unharmed.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “A man has been arrested after an elderly woman had her handbag snatched in Worthing.

“Members of the public managed to stop the offender, who was on a bike, before he ran off from the scene.

“The victim, a woman in her 80s, was uninjured, and her bag was returned to her.”

A 43-year-old Worthing man was arrested on Friday and charged with theft and possession of a knife in a public place. He is due at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, August 15.