Pensioner grabs thief who snatched woman's purse

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

Wednesday, 19th July 2017, 2:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:25 pm
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

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.

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.